JACKSON, Wyo. — Winter in Teton County comes with its own set of hazards that can affect people and their companion animals. This January, Teton County Emergency Management and PAWS of Teton Valley want the public to know how to keep their pets safe in the colder months. 

Freezing temperatures, heavy snow, gusty winds and slick ice are just some of winter’s natural hazards. Winter storms can also damage infrastructure and lead to cascading effects, such as the winter storms of early 2021 that caused significant damage to electrical grids and water distribution in the Southern U.S. The good news is that there are some simple steps the public can take now to improve outcomes in common cold-weather emergencies. 

Create or revise your household’s emergency plan

Include considerations for pets and specific plans for how you will evacuate with your animals. If officials ask you to evacuate, that means your pets should evacuate too. In your plan, identify someone you trust who will take your pets in case you’re not home during an emergency. 

Prepare a disaster kit for your pets

The kit should include enough food, water and medicine to get through at least five days, and should be stored at room temperature to avoid freezing liquid water and medications. Remember to add pet coats, blankets or other warm layers for the winter. Find pet disaster kit checklists at www.ready.gov/pets, www.cdc.gov/healthypets, and www.humanesociety.org

Stay on top of weather and conditions

Make checking the weather and avalanche forecasts a part of your regular routine, especially if you have outdoor animals or if your pets join you on outdoor adventures. Like people, cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia. Dogs can incur injuries just like humans can in the backcountry and are not aware of avalanche risks. Remember, if you don’t know, don’t go.

Take action when you receive an alert

Locate your pets and bring them indoors when you receive an emergency or weather alert for your area.

  • Sign up now for free emergency text messages from Teton County authorities. Text  “TETON_WY” to 888777. If you want alerts in Spanish, reply “ESP” to the confirmation.
  • Download the free FEMA app to your mobile device to receive National Weather Service alerts and warnings for up to five locations anywhere in the United States. 

Bookmark www.tcincident.org for follow-up information after an emergency, including the location of a disaster animal shelter if one has been set up. The Public can get more information about cold weather animal safety from the American Veterinary Medical Association at  www.avma.org. For local tips and resources and to learn about the Disaster Animal Response Team, check out  PAWS online at www.pawsofjh.org.