Resources and Tips for Displaced Pets
Having to relocate and find temporary housing during a natural disaster isn’t just difficult for families; pets can also suffer from stress when moving to a new environment.
Below is a roundup of local services and tips for wildfire evacuees with pets.
Lost and Found Pets
The unbelievable speed of the wildfires forced many families to flee their homes without their pets. Hundreds of domestic pets have been reported missing. If you found a stray animal:
Report it: Submit a Lost & Found report at your local humane society. This information is shared with all of the animal shelters and rescue groups throughout the local area.
Take the animal to a shelter: The shelter will see if the animal has a microchip that can help them reconnect with their owners. Regardless, the shelter can keep the animal and try to reunite it with its family.
Introducing Pets to New Environments
If you are an evacuee with a pet, it’s important to consider the anxiety your animal may be experiencing. Forgotten Felines of Sonoma County offers the following tips for helping cats transition to a new home.
1. Keep cats in a smaller room to begin with
Allow them to get used to new smells and sounds in a safe space. Keep food, scratch post, toys, carrier, etc. in room to make them comfortable.
2. Don’t force affection
Spend as much time as possible in with your cat, but don’t force them to interact with you. Allow them to hide, and always let them come to you before you pick them up.
3. Gradually reintroduce cats to small children
Kids can easily scare cats with sudden movements and noises. Make sure young children are calm and quiet when they are around your cat.
4. Introducing pets to each other
If your cat is in a temporary home with other animals, keep them separated in a secluded room until you relocate.
If your cat is in new, long-term housing with unfamiliar pets (like dogs), gradually introduce them to each other. For example, you could let each of them smell each other’s bedding prior to meeting face to face. When you first introduce your cat to a new dog, keep the dog on a leash.
5. Introducing your cat to the rest of the home
Once your cat is no longer exhibiting scared behaviors (like cowering, running away from you, etc.), you can let them explore the remainder of your new home. Open the door to their room and let them come out on their own terms.
6. Letting your cat outside your house
If you are in temporary housing, don’t let your cat outside. If you are in a new permanent dwelling, wait at least four weeks before letting them explore outside. Otherwise, Forgotten Felines of Sonoma County warns, they may try to return to your previous home.
Remember That Smoke Is Just as Harmful to Your Pets as It Is to You
Veterinarians warn that animals are just as susceptible to wildfire dangers as humans.
Make sure pets have a fresh supply of water, and keep them indoors as much as possible while the air quality is poor. Regularly check on your outdoor pets.
And, just like humans, young and elderly animals are always the most susceptible to smoke toxins.
For more resources on helping your pet cope through this disaster, check out the Humane Society’s website.