Planning for when a disaster or tragedy strikes can be overwhelming. While most people consider their pets to be a part of their family, it can be easy to forget to have emergency preparations for them, too. Remember, If it is not safe for you and your family, it’s not safe for your pet. If a disaster hits, and you need to evacuate, always take your pets with you. Pets left behind can be injured lost or killed.
It’s important to remember, though, that official disaster shelters do not allow pets and you’ll have to make other arrangements for your pets. This, alone, is a good reason to avoid government shelters. If you have large animals, like horses, cows, sheep, goats, etc., or large flocks of chickens, your preparedness plan will need to accommodate evacuating them out of the danger area, too.
Below are some of the more important tips when planning for your pets safety.
Make sure your pet has an ID tag or visible information on cage, etc. Should you need to evacuate the area, locate some pet friendly hotels:
Call and make reservation as soon as you think you might need to leave. You can always cancel. Some boarding facilities or veterinary offices may also provide some shelter in emergencies as well.
Just like people, animals need things too. Put together a small emergency kit for your animal and place it with your others survival bags. Here are some items you might include:
- Food and water for at least 5 days (note that most pet food needs to be rotated often, some as little as every 6 months).
- Bowls and can opener if i applicable.
- Leashes, blankets, carrier if needed.
- A few toys.
- Medication your pet needs. (Make sure to just rotate this with your current stock).
- Litter box, litter.
- Compact pet medical guide.
- Trash bags, grooming items.
- Photos of your pet in case you need to identify them.
- Information detailing your pets feeding habits, medical conditions along with the phone number of their veterinarian.
If you need to leave, sooner is better than later. Don’t wait for the mandatory order. Emergency officials have been known to tell some people to leave pets behind. Even if you think you will only be gone for a few hours, take your pets with you. Disaster conditions can change rapidly and you might not be allowed back into your neighborhood until after the danger has passed.
If you are unable to get home, have a plan for someone to check on or remove your pets and plan to meet at a particular location. Since this might be a high stress time, make sure your pet is comfortable with this person. Make sure they have a key to get in and know where the emergency supplies are to grab, and anywhere your pets might be when upset or frightened.
For a very comprehensive article on planning for pets in a disaster, please visit the Humane Society.