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Valley, Butte fires: Here's how to evacuate pets

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Most people evacuated safely from the Valley and Butte fires, but for some, doing so meant leaving beloved animals behind. Here's how you can evacuate your pets.

Most people were able to evacuate safely from the Valley and Butte fires, which erupted in Northern California last week.

But for some, doing so meant leaving beloved animals behind. Enter the UC Davis Veterinary Emergency Response Team, lead by John Madigan. The team has been helping pets and domestic animals abandoned in the chaos.

"One of the challenges is the amount of notification that you have that you may have to evacuate," said Madigan. "In this instance, which was very, very different from the majority of the fires that occur in California, is that people had no warning."

While at times there may be no warning when disaster strikes, Madigan shared tips on how to help prepare to evacuate your animals:

  • Be aware that disaster can happen to you. Whether its a fire, flood or earthquake, Madigan says being conscious of the potential disasters of your environment is key. This should lead you to having a safety plan for your family.
  • Extend your family plan to your pets. Madigan says once you've figured out things like a meeting place and communication steps for your human loved ones, then you can bring your furry loved ones into the fold. Have a go bag ready that includes things like food, water, carriers and leashes. Also make sure your pet has an up-to-date ID collar or microchip.
  • Heed evacuation warnings early. Madigan says this is key to helping your animals get out safely. And, make sure you know ahead of time how to get your pets out. For example, know how to hook up your trailer to tow your horses. Madigan also recommends proceeding slowly and calmly when handling your domesticated animals. By getting out of your home early, you allow yourself as much time as possible to avoid panic.


Madigan offers more suggestions on  preparing to evacuate animals here. Though the tips focus on horses, he says they are universal principles that can be applied to other animals.

If you'd like to donate to the UC Davis animal rescue efforts, click here.

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