The disaster go-bag Lauren McCoy made for her cats, Gogo and Milkstout, includes enough food for three days, laminated information and photos, medication and a comforting towel that smells like her home.
She said she keeps it in the trunk of her car because the threat of fire is "an any moment thing for us right now."
McCoy, coordinator of the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region's Community Animal Response Team, said too few people have a plan for their pets in case of fire or flood.
"Four or five years ago, after those major fires that we had in our community, everybody was ready for the next one," she said, referring to the deadly Waldo Canyon and Black Forest fires.
But, as time has passed, people have grown complacent, she said.
The El Paso County team, which helps shelter animals, from small pets to livestock, is activated by the city or county during an emergency. It's made up of more than 60 volunteers.
"We are a resource just like the Red Cross to our community," McCoy said.
It has been activated three times so far this year - most recently during the mid-April 117 fire, which burned 18 homes and more than 42,000 acres in the rural Hanover area in southern El Paso County.
"Right now, we are in a pretty active fire season ... anytime you see that it is a red flag day, it is a great day to just go ahead and be prepared as if it's going to happen today," she said.
McCoy said she made her cats' go-bag in 10 to 15 minutes, primarily with things she already had in her home.
A pet's go-bag should include: A carrier, at least three days' worth of food and water, bowls, litter box or waste bags, medical records, licensing records, a color picture of the pet with its owner, a pet first aid kit, leashes and collars with tags, medication, favorite toys, grooming items and bedding.
It's important to pack specific gear for more exotic animals or extra food for animals with specialized diets, McCoy said. And for livestock, bring "at least a mini bale of hay," she said.
A disaster plan also should include coordinating with friends and neighbors in case someone isn't home when an evacuation order is issued, she said.
And don't try to go into a mandatory evacuation zone to retrieve animals, McCoy said.
"Should your animal be in an evacuation zone and you cannot get back in, please immediately contact Animal Law Enforcement dispatch or the sheriff or police force," she said.
For more information and additional tips, hsppr.org/ready.
Contact Ellie Mulder: 636-0198