Are you prepared to evacuate with your pets?

We have had some incredible rain lately. Our normally dry desert landscapes have turned green. There are puddles of water sitting for days in low spots,  indicating the parched land is becoming saturated.

All the wet weather we have experienced recently is mild, however, in comparison to the devastation on the Front Range. With so many unusual occurrences seemingly becoming more frequent and much closer to home, it is never too early to consider initial preparation in case of an emergency evacuation.

For households with animals, a well-prepared plan for getting everyone “out” is worth pondering.

There were many people overcome by the sheer suddenness of the flooding in eastern Colorado and were unable to escape.

Imagine the scenario of a member of the National Guard knocking at your door mandating immediate evacuation. Are you prepared to gather essentials and vacate without delay?

Acknowledging that your animals are close to the top of your essential list, what are the necessary components vital to their safe escape from a precarious situation?

Begin assembling ideas of how to gather your animals in the safest, most efficient manner to ensure their survival. Smaller creatures can be confined to carriers and crates, while larger animals will need to be transferred in horse or stock trailers. Consider what items are necessary for the care of each animal for at least several days.

Crating a smaller animal during a stressful situation is often the safest alternative and minimizes the risk of its escape. Vaccination certificates and owner’s contact information can be stowed in the carrier compartment accompanying the pet, in case of separation. Food, water and any necessary prescription medications should also be readily available to pack and go.

Many animals can be safely contained in a carrier or crate, including dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, ferrets and bunnies. (The fish tank might be a bit more challenging depending on the size. However, fish can be transferred to portable containers.)

Large animals present their own requirements. Horses, cattle, llama, goats, sheep and any other large animal will need special vehicles and trailers for transport. It takes some time to get a herd rounded up, loaded and hauled off. A well-thought out plan to determine necessary steps in case of an emergency could ultimately increase your animals’ survival.

Unfortunately, in extreme situations, there is no time to initiate an evacuation plan. The force of the impact is so sudden, no planning in the world can change the outcome.

However, if there is some time, initiating your plan for evacuation and getting assistance from rescue coordinators could help expedite efforts. If you have an organized strategy already planned in advance, you, your family, and your pets will have a greater advantage of survival.

Rarely do we envision experiencing such an emergency. We live our daily lives and never imagine a situation where we are forced to flee. We live in Grand Junction, what could happen here?

But how many people in the eastern half of the state had those thoughts, too?

Fires and floods have dominated Colorado’s headlines this year. God bless all of the volunteers and kindhearted folks that came to the aid of those in desperate need during these catastrophic events.

Charlé Thibodeau has been passionate pet caregiver for more than 30 years. If you have a pets question you would like Thibodeau to answer in her column, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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