Plan for fire disasters, with your pets in mind

Niki Congero
Tribune Opinion Columnist
Phoebe is 2 years old. She is a terrier/pug mix who is house trained and has nice manners. Come visit Phoebe at The El Dorado County Animal Services, 530-573-7925. For spay-neuter services and other support, call the Lake Tahoe Humane Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at 530-542-2857. Update from last week: There are even more kittens at the shelter! Come and visit them and choose your new furry friend.
Courtesy Photo |

The question isn’t “if,” but “when,” we will have to deal with a fire in our community; so it’s important to prepare your whole family for a fire disaster, including family pets.

Put the following documents in a waterproof bag (pet emergency kits are always available free of charge at the Lake Tahoe Humane Society office, located at 884 Emerald Bay Road):

Name, address, phone numbers of pet owner;

Veterinarian name and phone number;

Health and rabies certificates (boarding facilities and emergency shelters require proof of current rabies, distemper, parvo and bordatella vaccinations);

Color photo of pets and description (in case you’re separated), plus a pet photo with a family member to prove your claim of a rescued pet; and

Medications with instructions.

Next, place the following items in a crate or carrier and store next to an exit or in garage:

Crate for pet to stand up and turn around;

Collar and harness with current personal ID tag;

Short and long leashes;

Food and water bowls;

Bottle water for pets (dogs: one gallon per day for a 40-pound-plus dog, cats: one quart per day);

Food and can opener;

•Favorite toys and chews;

Blanket and/or bed;

Litter and litter pan (a small aluminum baking pan fits in most cages) and/or a supply of puppy training pads — they can be used as a replacement to a litter box, just make sure you pack enough to change at least three times a day;

Pooper scooper and plastic bags for disposal of poop;

All-surface cleaner-deodorizer and paper towels (container of Lysol wipes are great to also have on hand);

Grooming comb, brush and towels; and

First aid kit: gauze pads and roll, tape, bandages, three-percent hydrogen peroxide, antibiotic ointment, muzzle, tweezers, small blunt end scissors, cold pack, thermometer (cats and dogs normal temp range is 100-102.5 degrees), box of corn starch (can be used to temporarily clot bleeding).

Always remember to plan ahead for emergencies and have a plan to stay with family or friends.

Never leave your pet behind! If you have to leave your pet behind, leave a week’s worth of dry food, fill your bathtub with water, and leave bowls of water out and about. Leave a note (attached well with lots of tape) on the front door that animals are in the home or garage and immediately notify local county animal services for rescue from your home.

Let’s hope we will not ever have to use this advice, but please be prepared.

Do this today — do not wait until tomorrow, as tomorrow may be too late.

Also know that Lake Tahoe Humane Society has a Disaster Animal Response Team (D.A.R.T) that works with Red Cross in the event of a disaster to set up an emergency shelter for pets. You can always contact them at 530-542-2857 for any questions regarding how to prepare for any disaster with your pets. Or if you have any items to donate to the D.A.R.T team — such as carriers or cages — they are always gratefully accepted.


It’s time again to submit your furry family members’ photos to Lake Tahoe Humane Society’s calendar/card photo contest. Visit and click on the calendar link, scroll to bottom of the page, fill out form and submit your image.

It a fun way to support Lake Tahoe Humane Society and help them help local animals in need.

Hopeful Henry is a column managed by Niki Congero, executive director of Lake Tahoe Humane Society & S.P.C.A. Submit questions or letters via e-mail to AskHenry@LakeTahoeHumane or by mail to P.O. Box PET South Lake Tahoe, CA 96158. For more information, visit SocietySPCA, Hopeful.Henry or

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