Black Forest Fire Station One - Photography by: Fennell Group ©2006

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Where to learn more

These tips and ideas were gathered from several web sites. Both of these sites can tell you more about keeping your animals safe in an emergency:

Front Range Equine Rescue is a local non-profit organization that works year-round to rescue abused horses and protect those at risk. Their ideas and recommendations are targeted to horse owners in our area. Visit their site to learn how you can support their efforts.

Federal Emergency Management Agency and Ready Colorado have a lot of information about disasters in general, including tips for evacuating animals.

Plan to evacuate your animals

Our animals depend on us. They deserve to be evacuated when danger threatens.

Emergency workers also depend on you to get your animals out. Frightened horses could injure or kill a firefighter who enters a pasture. Police officers can be badly hurt if their vehicles hit livestock wandering on roads.  

Transportation

Have enough trailer and towing capacity for all animals, and keep those vehicles drivable and fueled. If you don’t own enough trailers or trucks, organize a group of friends to help each other.

Have a cage or crate for every small animal.

Plan to get out in one trip. If you are given a mandatory evacuation order, you may not be allowed to re-enter the area to load the rest of your animals.

Train your animals to quickly move into their crates, cages, or trailers. Do this at different times of the day or night, because animals (like people) learn habits.

Shelter

Evacuation shelters, and most hotels, do not allow animals inside (except service dogs for the handicapped). When the Hayman Fire forced thousands of Teller County families to evacuate, many had no place to bring their livestock.

Front Range Equine Rescue, based in Black Forest, organized a huge volunteer operation to transport, house, and feed these animals. But this was an extraordinary response to a massive emergency.

A smaller wildfire will be just as much of an emergency for you, but it will probably not inspire the same level of support from the surrounding area.

So think now about where you can bring your animals. A network of friends can agree to house each other’s livestock. Front Range Equine Rescue also suggests contacting – in advance – stables, riding clubs, fairgrounds, veterinarians, or rescue organizations.

Some hotels will accept small pets, but their rules vary widely (see www.petswelcome.com). The key is to get this information in advance.

Wherever you go, take enough food for at least 48 hours. If you are not sure where you’re going, also try to bring water.

Papers and identification

Along with your family’s important papers, bring proof of ownership of your animals, such as brand inspection certificates, or photographs.

Bring health records, vaccination records, and copies of prescriptions.

Clearly identify each animal with the animal’s name and yours. Front Range Equine Rescue suggests that you paint your name and phone number on the side of a horse, write this information on a duct tape neck band, or write it on a tag that you braid into the horse’s mane.