People in Arizona who have to evacuate on short notice because of the Slide Fire in Oak Creek Canyon between Sedona and Flagstaff are not able to bring their pets to the Red Cross shelter at Sinagua Middle School. Luckily, the Coconino Humane Association about a block away will care for pets whose guardians have evacuated. Dogs will be housed in kennel runs, be provided a blanket, food and water and have time in the yard. (Cats are also being accepted and provided with the care that they need.) The service is completely free.
When shelters do not accept pets, people may resist evacuation. Luckily, in this case, there is a contingency plan for families with four-legged members. Obviously, being able to remain together would be preferable, but at least families have an option other than refusing to evacuate or sleeping in their car.
Ideally, shelters would be equipped to care for people AND their pets in emergency situations. As a society, we have a long way to go in this area, but things are better than they were even a decade ago. Aid organizations have learned that failure to provide for pets prevents people from leaving a potential hazardous situation. (Let us never forget Hurricane Katrina!)
Have you ever been faced with an evacuation situation that required you to choose between doing what was safest for yourself and doing what you needed to do for your dog?
Karen B. London, PhD, is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer whose clinical work over the last 17 years has focused on the evaluation and treatment of serious behavioral problems in dogs, especially aggression. Karen has been writing the behavior column for The Bark since 2012 and wrote The Bark’s training column and various other articles for eight years before that. She is an adjunct professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University, and teaches a tropical field biology course in Costa Rica. Karen writes an animal column, The London Zoo, which appear in The Arizona Daily Sun and is the author of five books on canine training and behavior. She is working on her next book, which she expects to be published in 2017.