With wildfires tearing through the state again this year, it’s important to have an emergency plan, and if you have pets or livestock, it should include them, too. That can get complicated. When the Black Forest Fire started, Sandra Hoihjelle and her family had to evacuate with their animals. It wasn't easy. "We had 35 goats, seven head of cattle and a horse -- not mention two cats with kittens and four dogs," Hoihjelle says.

They had to leave some barn cats behind. "We got them into the vehicles about three different times. They kept getting out," Hoihjelle says. The Hoihjelles had an emergency plan in place. With so many animals, they’d lined up friends with trucks and trailers to help them evacuate, but they only had about an hour to escape the fire. The fire reduced the Hoihjelle’s home and barns to ashes. "We left a lot of personal stuff because the important thing was getting the livestock and animals out," Hoihjelle says. 

The family and their animals went to stay with friends. But other families in the fire’s path weren’t able to rescue their animals. 

Ryan Warner speaks with veterinarian Ragan Adams, who says planning has to be done not just at the household level, but community-wide. She’s leading a project through Colorado State University to make that happen. Adams tells host Ryan Warner that it all started with Hurricane Katrina -- and the problems people had getting their animals to safety. 

 

Emergency Planning for Pets

Wildfire Preparedness for Horse Owners

[Photo: Miranda Spindel, DVM] A volunteer enters barcodes to keep track of animals at an emergency shelter during the Black Forest Fire.