Planning ahead: how to help your animals during a wildfire evacuation | BC SPCA
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Planning ahead: how to help your animals during a wildfire evacuation

August 14, 2018

Wildfire evacuations can be a tough time not only for people, but for the animals they love and care for. That’s why planning ahead is crucial to making your exit as efficient as possible.

Things that might be tougher to grab when we have to leave our homes in an instant, like your pet’s medical records, can come in handy down the road.

“It’s a good idea to make copies of your pet’s records, and then tape them to your emergency crate or some other item you know you’ll have to bring during an evacuation,” says BC SPCA manager of animal welfare Kim Monteith. “That way it’s there when you have to head out the door, and you’re not having to think about it at the last second.”

In the event you’re separated from your pet, registering them ahead of time with the BC Pet Registry gives you both a better chance of reuniting. This can be done if your pet has a microchip, tattoo, or licence. 

Registering your pet’s identification is crucial in reuniting pets who may have entered shelters during wildfires. If they’ve gone missing and have been found and are registered, it’ll be easier to return them to you. You should also make sure the information you’ve left with the registry is up to date.

What should we bring if we need to evacuate?

Some of the items on the BC SPCA’s checklist (PDF) include a seven-day supply of food and water for your pet. For dogs, their water supply should be four litres per day, while cats should have one litre per day. In addition to food and water, you should also be bringing dishes for them to eat and drink from.

Cat being held by girl looking over shoulder with ear id tattoo

If you can bring it, a larger expandable “tent” carrier for cats, or an exercise pen for dogs can make them a bit more comfortable if you’re going to be out of your home for an extended period of time.

Monteith says having spaces for your cat or dog to hide in will provide some much-needed comfort. “Humans understand what’s going on. We know it’s temporary, but going into a big gym or a shelter is kind of scary for our pets. If you can have something set up for them, somewhere they can play or hide, it gives them a chance to feel safe wherever they are.” If you’re able to bring or create something similar to our Hide, Perch & Go™ box, for instance, this can help your cat cope.

“You can also bring some of the things that will allow them to feel comfortable. This could be a toy or a brush from home, treats are good, too. We want to keep them safe and happy.”

Here are some of the items to include in an emergency kit for your pet — make sure to check out our full list (PDF) to ensure you don’t miss anything:

  • A seven-day supply of food and water
  • Identification tag and collar
  • Sturdy crate and/or carrier
  • Pet first aid kit
  • Blanket/plastic bags
  • Leash, harness
  • Food and water bowls (collapsible are great)
  • Litter box and litter for cats
  • Manual can opener
  • Copy of your pet’s current vaccination history
  • Any special medications and instructions