We live in the Black Forest area of Colorado that you have probably seen in the news these past few days. Our home is a mile outside the mandatory evacuation area.  We chose to stay at our house, but our car is packed and ready to leave at a moment's notice since Tuesday. Sadly many of our friends and neighbors lost their homes. 482 homes burned completely.  Homes can be rebuilt, but many people had to leave their animals behind, or turn them loose and this was the real heartbreak.

Here are some of the things I learned, which I did not know before.  If a fire breaks out and they evacuate an area, NOBODY is allowed into that area so, if you are out and try to get back to retrieve your pets, it's not happening.  Suggestion, make sure you have friends among your neighbors and that someone would have a way of getting to your pets if necessary or days could pass before the Humane Society would be allowed to do it for you. Some people had no more than 20 minutes to leave, others had a knock on the  door from a deputy telling them to  get out. I especially wondered about dogs who may have been left crated, since the fire broke out in the early afternoon....

Don't underestimate the time it takes to get ready.  If you have the luxury ( as we did ) to be in a voluntary evacuation or in a pre-evacuation area, immediately gather a few days of supplies/meds needed for you and your pets and put them in your car, so all you have to gather is people and pets and you can go.

As you do this, draw water, because chances are you will loose electricity and water is your most needed commodity.  There are plenty of other things I learned ( like keep windows closed, smoke is hard to get  out once it makes  it's way in, etc) but that goes beyond the scope of this post.  BTW, if you don't have a battery operated radio, go out and buy one now, it was our only source of information and helped keep us safe when TV and computers no longer worked.

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I might be wrong but I think shelters have to take pets now after Katrina. I'd imagine that the pets have to have crates and their supplies but I think they have to be accepted. Like I said, I could easily be wrong. Living in Iowa, esp during tornado season, I keep a supply of water on hand in gallon bottles. I replace them every year using the old one for watering house plants and replacing with new gallons. We have crates for both dogs and their food would be easy to grab. Their medical/shot records are in 3 ring binders in a tote bag since they go to GA with us in the winter so they are ready to go. I would not leave without the dogs. We are responsible for their welfare as much as you would be if they were children and I sure wouldn't have left my kids behind!! There are websites with helpful ideas for pet safety during emergencies. 

I sure hope you stay safe!!

Some shelters take small animals (dogs, cats and the like) some do  not.  The ones that do, do not require crates. Obviously, if you are temporarily leaving an animal at a facility, a well marked crate is a definite plus.

The Humane Society, where available,  may hold pets and there may be other designated locations, but the main thing is getting the pets OUT in timely manner because, once closed off, you will not be allowed in an evacuated area.  As for records, great if you have time and space, but not essential.  In our case Black Forest Veterinary Clinic, which I had used for 18 years, burned  to the ground. We know nothing more yet, except that the office cats are safe.

IDs on pets are a must in case you need to separate, which you may not have planned on.

If your area qualifies as a Federal Disaster area, laws kick in to protect lost pets and rescue groups must hold a found animal 30 days before adopting it out, if owner cannot be located.

For large animals the suggestion was to spray paint identification on the side (like a phone number). Lots of horses are loose or missing here and people are desperately looking for them, they may be with some rescue group, but with no identification it makes things really hard.

As for water, I do the same as you do in the Winter for snow storms (we're at 7200 ft) but it didn't cross my mind when the fire broke out mid-June... you can't think fast enough in those moments, which is why I decided to share my experience. Thankfully our electricity was restored in 24 hrs., better than we expected.

Oh my, how devastating. I did hear about the fires but haven't listened to the news in a few days. I think this is a good reminder how fast things can change and to have plans for everyone no matter what type of emergency is a good idea. I think of fires around here in fall when we have corn fields surrounding our 8 acres and the only way out is our driveway with corn on both sides. I often thought we'd have to go in the silo as it's a brick building but never thought about the smoke:(

Both my houses have emergency kits(flash lights, radios, candles and bottled water, paper towels) by my basement doors as we can grab for tornadoes/storms, we also have a supply of canned food in the basement.

My car has a kennel in it most of the time but not enough for all my dogs:( Mine always wear their collars with ID's and rabies tags on. I am hoping the vets (20 miles away) would have the records yet.

Glad you and your family are safe and I bet that was a hard decision as to stay or leave. I remember years ago when I was visiting CO seeing the side of a mountain that had burned...it was quite the site. Are you out of danger where you live now???  Stay safe!


@Jane, Fire was 65% contained as of noon today, our fingers are crossed. I keep all the vet records updated on the computer and a laptop is one of the very few things we packed. There have been so many different types of emergencies in the news lately, the idea is to know how you would manage the animals in your care if you needed to suddenly leave.

Even though we are one mile outside the mandatory evacuation area and in the voluntary e.a. (i.e. be ready to leave on short notice) because of a mix-up, for 4 days we were told that, if we left our home, we would not be allowed to return to it through the road block, not even to retrieve our pets.  Had we not stopped to ask, they would have let us out, no questions asked, but not back in.  Eventually we got permission from the Sheriff's Office and made a trip for groceries..  Just to say that, in an emergency some chaos ensues and it can take time before you straighten it out..... so remaining together has its value when possible.

I am glad to hear that you and your home are safe.  The news has been heartbreaking to watch.  I think the disasters since Katrina has really made pet owners think.  I live in NYS, 90 miles north of NYC.  In the last 2 years we have been hit with 2 tropical storms, Irene and Lee less then 2 weeks apart and then hurricane Sandy last year.  Thankfully we did not sustained much damage other than a foot of water in the basement, a few leaks here and there and a prized 10 foot high rose torn off the garage wall.  I do not take anything for granted.  Irene devastated areas in the Catskill mountains...who expects flooding from a hurricane in the mountains.  Vermont also.  Hubby and I have made emergency plans for the dogs and cats.  I will not leave them.

Your advice also emphasizes the need to have your dogs and cats chipped.  It's the easiest way to make sure they can be returned to you if the worst happens and you can't get them out.

Hi Anna,

How scary.  I would be beside myself if I wasn't able to get to my animals.  Thank you for the information and the reminders.  Stay safe.

Anna, I am glad you posted, I was wondering how close you were to this! So very sad to think of the devastating loss of life (both human and animal) and the loss of homes and possesions. Thankfully you are safe for now! I saw a posting on facebook of some folks that snuck back to their house to get their dogs but could only release their horses and hope for the best. I am sure there are many such stories.

Yes, we are an independent bunch in this neck of the woods.... Many had to let loose their horses because they either had no access to a trailer on such short notice, or the horses, spooked by the fire, would not load. it was a heartbreaking situation.  Here are some of the stories:


Thanks for the update Anna, glad your safe.  So scary and sad.  :(  Stay safe!!

Hi Anna,

Glad to know you're ok.  I'm originally from Colorado, and most of my friends and family are still back there.  My best friend was evacuated last time there was a fire.  

We've been donating to the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region and keeping up with all the displaced and evacuated pets from the fires.

I'm glad you are safe, and your dogs are safe.


Evacuation Assistance for Animals

If you need assistance evacuating your animals, please call Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region at 719.473.1741, x1.

Lost a Pet? 

  • Call 719.302.8794 to speak with our lost and found team.
  • Visit www.hsppr.org/lost to view stray animals brought into the shelter and complete the online lost report.
  • Visit in person. You know your animal best!

Rae, thanks for donating to the Pikes Peak Humane Society, they can certainly put it to good use.  Thank you also for posting a link to their FB page.

just heard from my family, tornados touching down all around our house (otero county) crazytimes.

i hope you're staying safe, too!


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