Dear Inquisitive Dog Guardians:

With the Jesusita Fire burning in the foothills above Santa Barbara and so many people and pets being displaced because of this tragic event, I thought it would be appropriate to address the topic of disaster preparedness and household pets. Although it’s usually best to think of these things before we need to act, it’s never too late to begin planning.

Joan Mayer and her sidekick, Poncho

Joan Mayer and her sidekick, Poncho

Even if your home isn’t directly affected, keeping certain supplies on hand is important in case power is lost or water is turned off. It’s also best to keep pets inside, where they are less exposed to smoke and ash.

As a dog mom and professional dog trainer, I’ve put together some useful guidelines complete with simple steps you can take to ensure your pet’s safety:

Identification: No pet should be without one, especially when left home alone. Make sure each pet has its own name tag and license attached securely to its collar. All information should be current. If your pet is microchipped, make sure the information on file is up to date.

Records: Keep copies of current vaccination records, along with most recent veterinary records and allergy information in an envelope in case you need to place your dog in a shelter, rescue or hotel for temporary housing. Keep a current photo on hand in case your pet gets lost.


» Two weeks worth of food

» Drinking water

» Medications; create a list including medication name, condition for which animal is taking it, dosage and frequency

» Newspaper, pee-pads or waste bags for elimination (litter pan if able to transport)

» Can opener and spoon (for use with canned foods)

» Food/water dishes (travel or nonskid is best)

» Pet-specific first aid kit

» Pet carrier

» Leash/harness

» Muzzle

» Emergency names, including veterinarian and clinic, emergency contact

» Bed or blanket

» Favorite toy

» Batteries and flashlight in case of loss of power

If you have to evacuate, do all you can to take your pet with you. Leaving an animal at home alone during a disaster can be devastating. If you are unable to take your pet to where you’re going, try to arrange for friends or family to take care of it for you. You also may find animal shelters, and veterinary hospitals offering temporary housing.

During the Jesusita Fire, the following facilities are offering emergency housing:

» Large animals can be taken to Earl Warren Showgrounds, 3400 Calle Real

» Small animals can be taken to the Santa Barbara Humane Society shelter, 5399 Overpass Road

The following Web sites have additional information to help prepare during these unexpected times:

» The American Veterinary Medical Association


» The Humane Society of the United States

If you have disaster preparedness tips you would like to share with other pet owners, please leave a comment below.

— Dear Inquisitive Canine is written by Joan Mayer and her trusty sidekick, Poncho. Joan is a certified pet dog trainer and dog behavior counselor. Her column is known for its simple common-sense approach to dog training and behavior, as well as its entertaining insight into implementing proven techniques that reward both owner and dog. Joan is also the founder of The Inquisitive Canine, where her love-of-dog training approach highlights the importance of understanding canine behavior. If you or your dog have questions about behavior, training or life with each other, e-mail

Joan Hunter Mayer

Joan Hunter Mayer

Joan Hunter Mayer is a certified canine behavior consultant, certified professional dog trainer, and founder of The Inquisitive Canine. She and her team are devoted to offering humane, pawsitive, practical solutions that work for the challenges dogs and their humans face in everyday life. Joan offers training and behavior consulting services both in person and online, dedicated to strengthening the human-canine bond. If you are feeling inquisitive and have dog training questions, email and click here for more training tips. The opinions expressed are her own.