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Blog for Last Chance for Animals, an international non-profit dedicated to ending animal cruelty and exploitation.

Keeping Animals Safe During Wildfires


As wildfires continue to spread through Southern California, countless families are being forced to evacuate their homes. Reports of animal lives devastatingly lost to the fires due to irresponsible and unprepared caregivers are a heartbreaking reminder that wildfire-preparedness is imperative. Whether you have an animal sanctuary or a single companion animal, tragedies can be prevented by taking simple steps to avoid placing animal lives at risk during wildfires.

Prepare Emergency Supplies

  • Have a sufficient supply of water (1-2 ounces of water per pound of body weight of an animal, per day) and food. If your companion animal requires medication of any kind, ensure that you have an extra supply available.
  • In case of evacuation, purchase a transportable crate or carrier large enough for the animal to comfortably turn around. The animal’s name, species, breed, and vaccination history should all be attached to the outside of the carrier. Large-breed dogs should be prepared with a sturdy harness and leash if not easily transported in a carrier.
  • Make sure your companion animals are wearing properly fitted collars with identification and license tags. Because collars can fall off, it is ideal to have your animals microchipped in case they are separated from you during a fire.  Recent photos of your animals are also necessary in case you need to post “lost” posters.
  • Purchase a rescue sticker alert to place on the outside of your home informing emergency responders that there is an animal inside needing rescue (in the event that you are unable to return home when a wildfire breaks out).

Have an Evacuation Plan

  • Companion animals rely on you for safety—do not leave them behind when you evacuate.
  • If there are active fires with even a remote possibility of spreading to your area, keep companion animals indoors. Families are frequently forced to evacuate without their animal due to being unable to locate outdoor pets in time. Beyond the obvious danger of being harmed by the fire, companion animals face great risks outdoors, including wild predators who are fleeing the fires.
  • Be aware of hotels, recreation centers and shelters in your area that will accept animals in an emergency. Always have a plan B, as many safe places reach capacity quickly.
  • If you have large animals that are difficult to transport, it is crucial to have detailed emergency procedures that you have practiced, ensuring a safe escape for all large animals under your care. Know exactly where you will evacuate your animals by contacting local equestrian centers and fairgrounds.

Animals are family members and it is the responsibility of caregivers to take all necessary measures to prevent them from injury during emergencies. Please help avoid unnecessary tragedies by sharing this information with anyone facing wildfire risk.

Photo: Gene Blevins/Reuters

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