ASPCA Disaster Response Experts Urge Pet Owners to Include Animals in Emergency Plans as Wildfires Continue to Threaten the Western United States

Residents forced to evacuate from their homes strongly encouraged to bring pets with them
August 10, 2021

NEW YORK, NY – As more than 100 wildfires continue to burn in nearly 15 states across the western region of the country, ASPCA® (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) disaster response experts are providing tips on keeping at-risk animals safe and urging residents to include pets in their evacuation plans. Wildfire activity throughout 2021 to date has increased by 14% when compared to this time last year, and many areas across the country will likely experience a fire-related disaster situation in the future.

The growing Dixie Fire burning in Northern California is breaking records as one of the largest wildfires in the state’s history, so far spanning nearly 500,000 acres and impacting thousands of residents in the area. With this wildfire consuming numerous counties across California and multiple fires spreading across 14 other states including Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, it is imperative to remember the below tips to prioritize your pet’s health and safety.   

“As wildfire season is expected to last nearly eight months, we urge people in the path of a fire to be prepared to evacuate with their pets in a moment’s notice,” said Tim Perciful, Manager of Disaster Response for the ASPCA National Field Response team. “We have already seen the devastating impacts that wildfires can have, and by taking necessary steps to prepare, you could be saving a life and keeping your family – including your pets – together.”

The ASPCA advises pet owners to take the following steps:

  • If you evacuate, take your pets with you. Never leave your pets behind or tether them to poles or trees, which prevents them from escaping and getting to safe areas.
  • Make sure all pets are wearing ID tags with up-to-date contact information. The ASPCA also recommends checking microchip registration information to ensure that contact information is up to date as well.
  • Create a portable pet emergency kit with essential items including medical records, water, water bowls, pet food and your pet’s medications.
  • Choose a designated caregiver, such as a friend or relative outside the evacuation zone, who can take care of your pet in the event you are unable.

Special considerations for horses:

  • If you own a trailer, please inspect it regularly. Also, make sure your towing vehicle is appropriate for the size and weight of the trailer and horse. Always make sure the trailer is hitched properly—the hitch locked on the ball, safety chains or cables attached, and emergency brake battery charged and linked to towing vehicle. Proper tire pressure (as shown on the tire wall) is also very important.
  • Get your horse used to wearing a halter and get him used to trailering. Periodically, you should practice quickly getting your horse on a trailer.
  • Set up a phone tree or buddy system with other nearby horse owners and local farms. This could prove invaluable should you—or they—need to evacuate animals or share resources like trailers, pastures or extra hands.

For more information on how to incorporate your pet into your disaster preparedness plans, visit

The ASPCA deploys nationwide to assist in relocation, search-and-rescue, sheltering and placement of animals during disaster situations including wildfires, tornadoes and floods. In addition, they work closely with local agencies across the country to help enhance their animal response capabilities through grants and training opportunities.