NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - If a fire breaks out at your home, are you prepared with an escape plan? Are your pets part of that plan?
Monday, July 15, is National Pet Fire Safety Day, a day all about protecting pets from fires at homes.
This year, the Newport News Fire Department partnered with the Peninsula Regional Animal Shelter for an event on Saturday, July 13, to raise awareness about the day and animal adoption.
Lisa King, Public Education Coordinator for the department, told News 3 families need to consider animals when making a plan for escape in the event of a fire.
King says it's important to have working smoke alarms and, if possible, to train animals to join their owners in the event the alarm goes off.
“Maybe keep a leash and collar by your exit so if you need to put on the leash and collar when you’re exiting or if one of our firefighters is coming in to help your pet, they can use that collar and leash to keep them from running away during a scary time for them," she said.
Brigette Dugan, Marketing and Animal Adoption Coordinator for the shelter, says it's important that animals are used to being handled by strangers to lower the risk of them running into a fire if they're approached by a firefighter in full gear. She also says get animals in their carriers and in the car for reasons other than vet visits and anything else traumatic.
“They just go in the carrier every once in a while, drive around the neighborhood. Get them used to being in the vehicle. That way, in case of panic, things like that, they’re not feeding off your anxiety," Dugan told News 3.
This comes weeks after a house fire in Hampton left two dogs dead. The homeowners happened to be petsitting the animals when the fire broke out.
King says that the situation should be a lesson for all pet owners.
“I think asking the facility or the people you’re leaving your pet with, 'Do you having working smoke alarms? Do you have a plan? What would you do if you did have a fire?' Those are good questions to ask. Even when we’re staying in other places, we should ask that for ourselves, but we need to ask that for our pets who do have a voice," she said.
Click HERE for more information on how to prepare your pets in the event of a fire.