April 2009 Issue

Pet Owner Fire Safety Tips

We always feel it can never happen to us — until disaster strikes. Having a plan gives your cats the best chance of survival.

When an out-of-control firestorm raced through the hills above Santa Barbara, California, last fall, frantic residents had little time to grab a few belongings and flee. "My wife and I were able to safely evacuate with our dogs and one of our cats," remembers Jason Bryan, a resident of Montecito, a tiny enclave of Santa Barbara. "Unfortunately, our other cat, Sunny, is adept at hiding, and we couldn’t find him before we had to leave. For days, the Bryans lived in a cramped motel room and were forced to wait and wonder whether their house — and beloved cat — had survived the flames. On the fourth day, they were allowed to return to their burned out neighborhood. "Miraculously, our house was still standing," says Marian, Jason’s wife. "And best of all, we found Sunny inside, hungry and lonely, but alive. We feel truly blessed." Some were not as fortunate as the Bryans. Sabrina Robinson was just finishing up her workday at a medical supply company when the fire broke out shortly before 6:00 pm on that fateful day. She wasn’t aware of the imminent danger until she stepped outside and smelled the acrid smell of smoke.

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