Wildland fire safety for livestock, pets


Last updated 5/15/2008 at Noon

esidents have taken steps to keep their families and homes fire-safe. They shouldn’t forget their pets and livestock; their chances of surviving a wildfire can be increased with some advance planning.


Homeowners should clear defensible space around barns, pastures and property, just as they do their homes. PRC 4291 requires clearance around all structures on one’s property.

They should plan ahead and know where they would evacuate the animals. They can contact their local fairgrounds, stockyards, equestrian centers, friends and the like about their policies and ability to take livestock temporarily in an emergency.

Several evacuation routes should be determined. Those who don’t have their own truck and trailer should make arrangements with local companies or neighbors before disaster strikes. Neighbors should have each other’s contact numbers (cell phone, work and home, for instance).

Animal owners should have vaccination/medical records, registration papers and photographs of their animals (proof of ownership) and a Disaster Preparedness Kit.

If it is absolutely necessary to leave animals, they should be left in a pre-selected, cleared area with enough hay for 48 to 72 hours. One should not rely on automatic watering systems. Power may be lost. One should not wait until the last minute to start evacuating.

A livestock Disaster Preparedness Kit should include the following:

• Hay, feed and water for three days

• Non-nylon leads and halters

• First aid items

• Wire cutters and a sharp knife

• Hoof pick

• Leg wraps

• Shovel

• Water buckets

• Plastic trash barrel with a lid

• Portable radio and extra batteries

• Flashlights

During a wildfire, local animal rescue organizations work with law enforce­ment and fire departments to rescue as many animals as they can.

In battling a wildfire, firefighters will do what they can but they are not responsible for evacuating livestock. Firefighters may cut fences or open gates to free trapped animals.


Pet owners should plan ahead to know where they will take or leave their pets. In case they are not home when disaster strikes, they should arrange in advance for a neighbor to check on or transport their pets. The neighbors should have their contact numbers.

In the event of evacuation pets may not be allowed inside human emergency shelters so an alternate prearranged location to take animals is needed.

Make sure pets are always wearing properly fitted collars with personal identification, rabies and license tags.

Each animal should have its own carrier. Birds, rodents and reptiles should be transported in cages. Cages should be covered with a light sheet or cloth to minimize their fear.

Vaccination/medical records, veterinary contact information, proof of ownership, a current photo and a Disaster Preparedness Kit should be stored in one location.

A pet Disaster Preparedness Kit should include the following:

• Pet carrier for each pet

• Two-week supply of food and water

• Non-spill food and water bowls

• Pet first-aid kit

• Medications and dosing instructions

• Cat litter box and litter

• Plastic bags for waste disposal

• Paper towels

• Disinfectants

• Leashes/collars/harnesses

• Blankets

• Toys and treats

• Newspaper

If one must leave pets, they should be brought indoors. Never leave pets chained outdoors! Use a room with no windows and adequate ventilation, such as a utility room, garage, bathroom or other area that can be easily cleaned. Do not tie pets up!

Leave only dry foods and fresh water in non-spill containers. If possible, open a faucet to let water drip into a large container or partially fill a bathtub with water.


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