Race Against Time: Pet Evacuation in Case of Fire

RENO, NV - It's a menagerie at the Witmer house.

With four dogs, 2 cats, a fish and four horses, Landis Witmer says it can get crazy.

But she says she always believed if need be, she, her family, and animals could leave their home at a moment's notice.

“We thought we knew what we had, and could move pretty quickly if we needed to. There's a fire 7 miles away, no big deal. And then, all of a sudden, it was here, And it was, it was chaos, it was chaos, You couldn't even see your hand,” says Witmer.

November 16th, 2011, the Caughlin Fire would destroy 28 homes and damage 15 others in the Reno area.

The horses, which loaded into trailers all the time, refused to go in because of the smoke.

Landis says they made the decision to leave them, and drove off with the rest of the animals in the car.

“None of us is prepared. What will happen is the cat will hide, the dog will run. Being the alpha in this situation is the biggest, the number one thing you should do,” says Peggy Rew, a Red Cross Dog and Cat First Aid Instructor.

Rew shows us all the items you want to have on standby in your home, as well as at a friend or family's home, where you might end up during the crisis.

Things like blankets, food, water, medicine, leashes.

“Chicken broth because a lot of times, when animal are panicky they don't want water. So they are just like us they want something salty or something sweet,” says Rew.

She says she even puts carriers out so the animals don't fear them, but become used to them.

Remember items like a doggy bed that can keep your dog calm.

Lavender, she says, can go on a bandana around the dog's neck to comfort him.

Landis says she has put her emergency kits together just in case a Caughlin fire should strike again.

But in the back of her mind she knows it's not if... but when.