Speaking of pets: disaster response

Because our pets respond to our emotions, you can help them by staying calm.
Mike Burke / Unsplash

No one wants to face a disaster like wildfire, but the threat is still there.

Prepare for the worst

Familiarize yourself with Vail’s escape plans. An order is required; a warning asks you to remain vigilant for an order. However, leaving as soon as you receive a warning means less stress on you and your pets, and helps avoid tragedies like being trapped in fire. Your home and possessions can be replaced, but your life and the lives of your pets cannot.

Sign up to receive emergency alerts on ECalert.org. Associate your cell phone with a property address by registering your number with Eagle County. Give a set of house keys to a neighbor who can save your pets if you are not at home.

Save your animals

First and foremost, ensure your own safety. There is nothing you can do to help your pets if you are panicked or incapacitated. This means having a plan in advance: have your carrier easily accessible, and keep an extra dog leash and secondary food and water bowls in your car.

Completely secure your pets in the car, keep your windows up and your headlights on.

Because our pets respond to our emotions, you can help them by staying calm. Realize that they can be just as confused and scared as you are. Once you are safe, spend some time petting him and talking to him softly to assure him that he is safe.

Go home

Do not return home until the authorities give you permission, and then keep your dogs and cats indoors, especially if there is still smoke in the air. There could also be hot spots on your property, or even wild animals that have taken refuge nearby. Keep your pet on a leash if you are going out, as odors and familiar landmarks may be gone and your pet may get lost.

If the worst happens and you are faced with a wildfire, your response can mean the difference between life and death for you and your pets.

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Joan Merriam lives in Northern California with her golden retriever Joey and Maine coon cat Indy. She points out that she is not a vet or animal behaviorist, but an animal lover who has been writing about pets since 2012. You can reach her at [email protected].

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