Don’t forget your pets when planning for disasters – Marin Independent Journal

Don’t forget your pets when planning for disasters – Marin Independent Journal

It’s now common — and depressing — knowledge that our region faces wildfire risk every year. Small vegetation fires like the recent one near Sausalito and Marin City can induce a sense of dread, if not panic. The recent news of our beloved majestic, giant sequoias in the Mariposa Grove being seriously threatened by wildfire was truly scary and can leave us feeling powerless.

A great way to feel empowered in the face of uncertainty and threat is to make sure you and your family — including your pets — are well prepared for disasters.

The best way to protect your animals is to put them in your plans before disaster strikes. A well-practiced disaster plan for you and your pets will not only reduce stress, but also save precious time and lives.

how to prepare

• Make sure your pet has identification. A collar and identification tags should be worn at all times, and pets should be microchipped.

• Crate train your pet. You can train your pets by putting their favorite treat in the carrier and ringing a bell at the same time. Repeat the process every day until your pet comes running at the sound of the bell. The ability to get your pet quickly into a crate is essential.

• If you evacuate, take your pets with you. Animals left behind in a disaster can easily become injured, lost or killed. They can escape through damaged areas, such as broken windows. Animals left to fend for themselves are likely to become victims of exposure, starvation, predators, contaminated food or water, or accidents. Never leave them tied up inside or outside the home.

• Evacuate early. Don’t wait for mandatory evacuation orders.

As part of your personal and pet response plan, prepare an emergency kit in a watertight plastic storage container that includes:

• Leashes

• Necklaces

•Identification tags

• Water and food

• Medications and veterinary records

• Photos of your pet to prove ownership

lost pets

If your animal becomes lost, immediately call or go to the nearest animal shelter or emergency command post. Post on social media and when deemed safe, return to your neighborhood to post or distribute posters. Continue to search your area for your missing pet — a frightened animal can stay hidden for days. Set up a feeding station and place clothes with your scent nearby. Call neighbors or service workers such as mail carriers, police, firefighters and PG&E workers for leads.

If you find a lost pet, notify your local animal shelter and provide a full description of the animal and location. Remember that pets are much more likely to be reunited with their guardians if they’re kept in the county in which they’re found.

Finally, let’s remember that we’re all in this together, so share this information with others and consider reaching out to neighbors with pets if you think your neighborhood may be evacuated.

Pet Food Express, a longtime supporter of Marin Humane and other shelters and rescues throughout the Bay Area, recently launched a special section of its website devoted to disaster preparations. Go to,, or for more important tips.

Let’s make sure our beloved pets are safe, no matter what Mother Nature brings us.

Lisa Bloch is the director of marketing and communications for Marin Humane, which contributes Tails of Marin articles and welcomes animal-related questions and stories about the people and animals in our community. Go to, find us on social media @marinhumane or email

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