Advice: Evacuating Your Pets as Lava Flows Approach

Ed. Note: The lava flow, as of this morning, has changed direction with outbreaks uphill, but it has not stopped.  Such changes are to be expected, but that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t continue evacuation preparations. 

The pet evacuation advice below  is from a pamphlet by geologist Asta Miklius, who helped with animal rescue during the Kalapana flows.  “Pauses in advancement of the flow front are not uncommon,” says Miklius.  “During the overun of Kalapana in 1990, the flow paused 11 times. Many residents stopped their evacuation preparations, hoping their home would be spared; when they needed to evacuate, some people abandoned their pets, imagining that they could survive on their own.  Others could not capture their frightened animals at the last minute.”


Animals can’t survive a lava flow!
Advancing lava is a terrifying situation. Panicked animals do not know which way to run to safety and are likely to either try to cross burning hot lava or hide under their house until it goes up in flames.

Plan ahead to keep your pets safe
Arrange for family or friends to take your pets in if you can’t take them with you to your refuge. If no one can help, call kennels and animal shelters, or ask for assistance from or the Humane Society.
Contain your pets long before you need to take them to their refuge. Even the tamest of animals can become agitated and hard to catch in tense circumstances.
Relocate your pets before you are told that you need to evacuate. The order to evacuate can come with as little as 24 hours advance notice of the arrival of lava to your area. The time to act is several days to a week before the lava is expected to reach your community.
Have leashes and/or carriers ready. If you need carriers, check with the Humane Society or Prepare containers with their food, medicines and instructions. Vaccination records will be important if taking them to kennels or shelters.
Consider microchipping your pet. This is the best way to reunite with a pet in case you become separated. Call your veterinarian or the Humane Society for this quick and painless procedure. The Humane Society is microchipping for only $8 until at least September 27. Remember to keep your contact information current.

Raku with bandages

Raku was rescued after he severely burned his paws trying to cross hot lava as it surrounded his home in Kalapana in 1990. He went on to live a long life, but countless other animals perished in Kalapana, engulfed in flames. Photo by Christina Heliker

Where to turn for help
• Hawai`i Island Humane Society: 966-5458
• Search for o?ers of assistance, and/or post your request.
• Hui Pono Holoholona cat shelter:, 968-8279.
• Rainbow Friends Animal Sanctuary for special needs pets: 982-5110,

If you can help
• O?er to foster animals: call the Humane Society and post on
• Donate time or funds to the organizations listed above.

Stay informed
• Listen to the radio for Civil Defense advisories, call 935-0031 or 935-3311 (after hours), or check their website
• USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory: or 967-8862.


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