You may have prepared for an emergency for you and your family, but what about your pets? Have you planned for them?
In every area of the United States during each season of the year, the possibility of evacuation could become possible. Natural disasters occur often enough, somewhere, to make it reasonable to start thinking about preparing ahead of time for your pet’s needs.
1. NEVER leave your pets behind. They won’t be able to care for themselves, and they could possibly escape, never to be reunited with you, or worse case yet, they could be injured and die.
2. Evaluate what kind of disaster could occur in your area that would force you to leave your home: fire, flood, tornado, hurricane, or volcano. It could even be a gas leak.
3. There are many evacuation shelters that do not allow pets. Some shelters will provide one area for pets and another area for people. Some hotels and motels may lift restrictions for pets when a disaster occurs. Check with your local emergency planning commission to find out where there are pet-friendly evacuation areas. Check with possible hotels or motels to see if they will accept pets in this situation. Check with them every 6 months or so in case policies change at the facilities.
4. If evacuation orders occur while you are not home, find someone to rescue your pet. It may be a trusted neighbor, someone that knows your pet. Make sure they have all of the information from you as to what you expect them to do.
5. Assemble an evacuation kit for your pet. Include enough supplies to last 2 weeks. Duration of an evacuation is always an unknown.
6. Putting a sticker on the front of your home indicating you have a pet so rescuers would know if a search is necessary if you are not at home. If you are at home, and you evacuate with your pet, if you have time, you should mark through the sign indicating that you have evacuated your pets. The ASPCA has these stickers available or you could contact your humane society.
Since Katrina hit in 2005, Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act (PETS) was passed so that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would make plans for evacuated pets and service animals.
What should you put in your pet emergency evacuation kit? There are several lists of emergency supplies necessary for people. Check with the Red Cross if you are unsure. There are not many lists for pets, however. Here are some suggestions to put in your pet’s emergency supply kit:
• A sturdy crate! The crate is very necessary because you will need to take care of many things when facing a disaster, so containing your pet will save searching time, and it will definitely protect them. If possible, you should have one for each pet.
• Blankets: These could be used several ways such as bedding in the crate, comforting and wrapping them for warmth during cold weather, or even picking up a stressed pet.
• Medication: Rotate these medications every 2 months so they don’t go bad.
• At least 3 days, up to 2 weeks of food (canned with pull tabs or dry) and water. Make sure you take bowls for both. Food and water should be in water tight containers. Rotate the food and water every 2 months also.
• Several small garbage bags for waste.
• For cats, litter box and litter. A good litter box would be a disposal roasting pan.
• If you are keeping your pet in a crate, which is advised for their safety, put several potty pads in the kit.
• Comfort toys, chews, or snacks.
• Photo of your pets for identification.
• Extra collar or harness and leash.
• Liquid soap and disinfectant for clean up.
Preparation is the key for a safe evacuation. Don’t wait until the emergency is upon you. Bring your pet inside when the disaster is looming. If and when the evacuation is mandated, you will be able to leave under much less stress, and you will know you’ve done your best to protect all in your household.
Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian nor do I have any formal training in any medical field. This article is not to replace the advice of your veterinarian. I am only providing options and ideas that you may want to discuss with your veterinarian.