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Our dog sleeps with us in our 3rd floor bedroom, and though we have an escape ladder for people in case of fire downstairs, what is the best way to get a 60 pound dog to the ground safely? There's no way we could carry the dog down a rope escape ladder.

I've thought about using a rope through her harness to lower her to the ground, but I don't feel confident that her walking harness would stay on if she struggles while being lowered (and I'm certain she's going to struggle when we try to push her out an open window while the fire alarms are blaring and the room is filling with smoke).

Although she usually does sleep in her crate, I don't think it would fit through the window without folding it, or that it would stand up to being lowered by rope, so lowering her in her crate is probably not an option.

Is there a harness that would be secure, but is also quick and easy to put on in an emergency? Is there some better way to safely get a dog out a 3rd floor window and safely to the ground in an emergency?

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There are a number of harnesses and even an escape bag, commercially available and designed for lowering a pet (or a child) to the ground. Your budget, the dog's temperament and your physical ability will affect your purchase decision.

Several things to consider.

  1. The anxiety of your family and your pets is likely to be elevated during a fire emergency. The more you practice, the less stressful it will be. Practicing with the fire alarm ringing as well as in the peace and quiet will all be helpful.

  2. Using a pulley system to lower a larger pet will be a good choice. You probably do not want to expose the pet to actually being lowered from the window until an actual emergency, as it may cause undue anxiety (use your judgement). But you will want to practice lowering a weight equal to your pet.

  3. If possible two rescuers should be used: one on the ground to lower the pet (pulley system) and one upstairs and going down the people escape to guide the pet. If your practice time is more than a minute, from bed to everyone on the ground, consider that smoke inhalation is a big risk. Have a plan so everyone does not die trying to save one.

  4. A pet who is scared is going to be more likely to accidentally harm their rescuer with claws or teeth, so devices that enclose the pet may be more appropriate than a simple harness.

  5. If there are lower floor windows below your escape window, anticipate there may be flames coming out of them. Fire alarms that communicate with each other provide an earlier warning, decreasing risks occurring during escape. If the escape path must cross a lower flow window, consider shutters capable of providing a fire block and/or fire appropriate clothing (like firefighters wear).

For small pets, like cats, rabbits and small dogs. Use a pillow case as an emergency pet carrier. Take the pillow out of the case, gently slid the pet in the pillow case. Large pillow cases you can tie a knot in the open end, for small pillow cases tie the top with rope or clothes line.

This can also be used to lower pets from heights (with the rope) or transporting to the vet. Most cloth pillow cases allow sufficient air circulation, for the pet to breath. Don't use plastic bags, or heavy water proof bags without air circulation.

I have used (long ago) a pillow case for rescuing cats from trees as well as for short transports to the vet.

  • Thanks for the answer, I hadn't considered an escape bag, but that might be my best bet since it'll help keep the pet contained after reaching the ground. – Johnny Oct 7 '14 at 21:05
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60 lbs is a bit. A climbing harness designed for dogs and practice putting it on and off.

A 50 ft climbs rope and a carabiner (or two).

Lowering 60 lbs three stories not not the each. Hand over is would be tiring the rope could slip.

I would not worry about a pulley. Climbing rope is not abraid and fail.

The technique to use is called a top belay. There are simple devices that let you belay with little effort. I would use a simple figure 8. You would need an anchor for the belay device. In external anchor at the top of the window would be ideal. Practice with 60 lb object. You do not need to lock yourself as you are not on the top of a cliff.

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