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September 25, 2012

Washington Residents Advised About Wildfires’ Impact on Pets

As multiple devastating wildfires burn across Washington, The Humane Society of the United States offers residents tips on ways to keep their pets healthy and safe when smoke is thick.

The following recommendations will help protect animals from harmful air quality:

  • Keep pets indoors whenever possible. Do not leave pets outdoors overnight or when you leave the house.

  • Provide plenty of water for your pets. You can also keep bird baths filled to help the wildlife in your yard stay hydrated.

  • Close your windows and doors. Use the recycle or re-circulate mode on the air conditioner in your home or car.

  • Some symptoms of smoke inhalation include coughing, wheezing, watery and itchy eyes. Seek veterinary treatment for any animals experiencing these or other unusual symptoms.

  • Be cautious around wildlife you may encounter because they could be disoriented or stressed by smoky conditions. If you discover any injured or sick wildlife, contact a trained, licensed wildlife rehabilitator from the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife’s referral list. Do not attempt to treat or raise a wild animal yourself; it is illegal.

“It is crucial that residents are aware of the impact wildfires can have on their health and the health of their pets—even if they don’t live close to the blaze,” said Dan Paul, Washington state director for The HSUS. “If it isn't safe for you to be outside, it isn't safe for your pets. This is also important to remember if residents are asked to evacuate in the face of these destructive fires.”

The HSUS also urges anyone who may be in the path of the wildfires to take their pets with them if they evacuate. Fires across the state have already burned thousands of acres and displaced hundreds of families. There could be additional evacuations as the wildfires continue to burn.

Pet owners should have an emergency plan that includes the safety of their animals, and always be informed about the potential for evacuation in their area.

This emergency supply kit should include:

  • Three-or-more-day supply of food in airtight, waterproof container, and drinking water.

  •  Bowls for food and water.

  •  Current photos and physical description of your pets, including details on markings.

  •  Medications, vaccination records and pet first aid supplies.

  •  Comfort items such as a toy and blanket.

  •  Small garbage bags.

  •  For dogs include: leash, harness and a sturdy carrier large enough to use as a sleeping area.

  •  For cats include: litter and litter box and a sturdy carrier large enough for transport.

Pet owners should be aware that many evacuation shelters do not accept pets, and they must plan their destination in advance. Hotels and motels may be willing to lift “no pet” restriction in an emergency. Friends and family members living outside the area may be able to provide shelter too. Please check with your local animal shelter or emergency management office to determine if a pet friendly emergency shelter will be set up in your location.

Sixty-three percent of American households include pets – a total of more than 358 million pets. A Zogby International poll found that 61 percent of pet owners will not evacuate if they cannot bring their pets with them.

For more tips on preparedness plans that include your pets, visit humanesociety.org/prepare

Media Contact: Stephanie Twining, 240-751-3943, stwining@humanesociety.org

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