by Nancy E. Hassel,

On Monday, April 9th, after a busy morning of client meetings and errands, I was driving to my office on Sunrise Highway near Islip heading East and I saw a lot of smoke in the distance.  I said to myself, “Wow, something is seriously on fire!”   And within the hour I learned that there was a big and growing brush fire in Manorville, NY.  Didn’t think that much of it at first other than it reminded me of the Pine Barrens fire in the 90’s.  A few minutes after learning of the fire, I saw a post on Facebook by a Long Island Equine Disaster Preparedness, (which was originally created during hurricane Irene by a horse owner on LI), that there were over 200 horses needed to be evacuated and the call for help was very urgent.  Being someone who has been riding horses my entire life, I was immediately sick to my stomach at the thought of spooked horses near a fire.

Horses being lead out of Fire zone. Photo Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

So I re-posted the original post on both my personal and business Facebook pages to see if any of my horsey set connections could help.  I also called a few of the phone #’s  on that were posted to see if I could get updates and spoke with Christine Distefano from Amaryllis Horse Equine Rescue to get any updates.  The response from both dog/cat and horse people was amazing of everyone wanting to help and people that were already on their way to help.

On the ground reports of it being chaos and people having to walk in and walk horses out were coming in from a few different places.  But an army of people were there to help with horse trailers and had places to bring the horses – posts were coming in from all over LI of people offering up stalls and stables.  It is a wonderful and amazing thing that all the horses and their owners made it out safely.  We also had a group of Long Island Pet Professional members from all over LI ready to help as reports that Kent Animal Shelter may have to evacuate their 110 animals were being posted, but thankfully they ended up not having to evacuate.  (Big thanks to everyone who offered help!)

But the question remains in my mind, are you ready in case of an emergency with your pet?  Whether it is a dog, cat, horse, bird, or reptile, do you have a plan of action, back up plan?  Unfortunately in disasters like this is when we realize just how important a plan is.  Just something as simple as having your dog’s or cat’s ID tags up to date, extra set of collars and leashes readily available, and of course pet medical records and proof of vaccinations – seriously you can scan onto your Smart Phone or ipad these days.  But I would suggest having a hard set of copies in your car glove compartment.

Other important things you should consider when having an evacuation plan are to have a contact near your home – that if you can’t get there in time they can.

  • Contact information for your pet’s veterinarian
  • Recent Photo of your pet
  • Water, food and containers
  • Leash/muzzle/harness
  • Any Medications for your pet and/or list of them
  • Pet carrier or cage
  • Kitty Litter & container for cats
  • Also put your veterinarian phone # into your phone
  • Sign or decal on your windows alerting firemen how many pets and what type may be in your home
  • First Aid Kit for pets in your car at all times – in case your pet gets injured and you can’t get him or her to the vet right away

Remember too, that your pet may act differently during an emergency, so make sure their collar and/or harness is on correctly so the don’t slip out of the collar and run away.  Have a family meeting to discuss a plan of action for any emergency and be sure to include all pets in that plan so everyone knows what to do, where to meet during emergency etc.  Suffolk County residents please know that emergency shelters are often pet friendly – they work with animal organizations to ensure you leave your home With your pet and will help keep your pet safe.  More information on this can be found here.

Thank you to all our volunteer firefighters, police and rescue for doing what you do! Crossing fingers and paws that this fire will be out in a day or so.  A big thanks to Fetch Doggies, SuperPaws, Sit, Stay and Play (,  Iguana PartyEast End Boarding Kennel, Pre-K-Nine Training (, Pet Peeves Dog Training, ArtCasso for contacting me to offer help if anyone needed it, I was just one of many messengers getting the word out.  And if I forgot anyone thank you too.

Newsday Photo Credit: John Roca

Horse being lead to safety. Newsday Photo Credit: Photo Credit: John Roca

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