Carolyn Wing Greenlee

Valley Fire and Dogs

Dear dog-lovers,

Hedy and I are okay, though we’ve been on Advisory Evacuation since Sunday morning at 6:30. There was a special teaching session for graduates on emergency preparedness from Guide Dogs for the Blind several years ago, and I took measures back then to makes sure I could take care of her during an emergency.

One really great thing about this Valley Fire emergency is authorities did not force people to leave their pets behind. In Hurricane Katrina, they did, and the anguish of not knowing if their pets were safe was worse than losing their homes. It was two weeks before people could return to look for them, and those pets which were locked inside often did not make it. They actually did better if they were let loose.The authorities in Louisiana realized that people need their pets to help them manage the loss and stress. The next time a storm forced evacuations, they told people to take their pets with them.

You may not live in a high fire danger area, but it is good to be prepared in case something happens and you get separated—something that keeps you from being able to get home, for example.

One big concern is separation. If you have information about your dog in your wallet, it can help people in the search for your pet. It should have your name and phone number, address, the dog’s name and description, any health problems, what it eats, and any special information. In my case, I have another folded paper with that information in Hedy’s harness pocket. Medical records are also helpful. You can get a print-out from your vet.

I packed a bag of Hedy’s food, a collapsible bowl and a bottle of water, her blanket, a kong and a chew toy. It’s in a special bag that I painted with hearts and dog paw prints. I can identify it in a minute and grab it in a hurry.

If you are in an area where air quality is bad from smoke, don’t walk your dog outside. The rule GDB gave me is, if it’s not healthy for you, it’s not good for her either.

Lots of volunteers helped look for pets in burned out areas. A couple of women were putting dog and cat food out near the places houses had been. Many people had minutes to flee, and they could not get their horses out. Dogs and cats could also not be rounded up in time. Happily many are being reunited with owners, and many who were evacuated for safety’s and prudence’s sake, have been able to go home. In my neighborhood, my friend Dan emailed the neighborhood website: Next Door, and volunteered to check on pets and houses. In our area, lots of people evacuated at the Mandatory evacuation call (it was reduced to advisory before I finished packing, so I’ve been at home instead of in a shelter all this time), and others don’t live here all year. I think it’s great to have a network like that so you can watch out for each other. Some looters have been arrested, though not in Riviera West.

My computer is finally back up (we weren’t going to unpack till we knew for sure we weren’t going to be evacuated) and I wanted you to know all the critters and humans here are okay. Neighbors are returning to their homes. We had beautiful rain yesterday and the firefighters were able to get more control on the fire. The high winds and lightning that were expected to come with Wednesday’s storm did not happen, and I believe all the prayers were answered with special kindness from the Lord.

Thanks to all of you who prayed.

Carolyn, Hedy, and the kitty Hope

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