Editor’s note: This column was submitted after the Mountain Fire began but before evacuation orders were implemented.
If we weren’t paying attention before, we are now.
You’re ready to evacuate your family in case of a disaster on our mountain; you’ve got supplies to get through a week or two if we are isolated here. The animals that count on you for their survival are part of your family, too, and need to be considered in whatever plans you make.
Idyllwild resident Janice Fast, who has experienced emergency situations on the Hill, says it very concisely: “Don’t have more animals than you can evacuate.”
Make a plan that includes your pets. Make arrangements with someone who can get to your pets if you can’t. Notify that person every time you leave the Hill.
Another positive action you can take right now to protect your animals is to get them microchipped. Gates and doors get left open in the confusion of a disaster. Traumatized dogs and cats tend to flee, even those who normally wouldn’t leave their territories.
Help rescuers return lost animals to you quickly by chipping and registering your contact information. Don’t wait for the next emergency.
Should you lose your pet, ARF’s Search and Rescue Team, headed by Robert Hewitt, will be doing its best to find lost animals as conditions permit. Call 951-663-6642. Please keep this number with your emergency contacts.
Put together a first-aid kit for animals. A complete list can be found on ARF’s website — www.arfidyllwild.weebly.com under “Disaster Preparedness for You and Your Pets.”
This website also has a description of items that should be included in your pet’s Grab and Go Box. Although these lists are fairly inclusive, please use them as guidelines to help you prepare. Check with your vet for emergency supplies to include in a kit, such as antibiotics, anti-anxiety medication, and any other prescription medication your pet needs.
If you evacuate, a number of motels in the Hemet and Banning areas accept animals. These, as well as boarding facilities, are listed on ARF’s website. If you don’t have access to a computer, email me for a copy of whatever information you need.
If you truly must leave pets behind as a last resort, tape a sign to your front door describing any animals you have left in the house so that Riverside Emergency Animal Rescue Services (REARS) or others can try to save or care for them. Call the REARS hotline at 951-358-7387.
Please don’t think firefighters, sheriff’s deputies or ARF volunteers will have the time or resources to rescue our animals. It’s our responsibility as pet guardians to be prepared to safeguard their well-being.
Questions for the animals can be sent to Shela Boynton at [email protected]