Every second Saturday in May is dedicated to educating pet owners about disaster preparedness for pets. Emergencies can come in all forms, from an unexpected brief absence to a long-term mandatory evacuation. What follows are ten tips on how to be ready for any emergency.
- Always bring pets indoors at the first sign or warning of an emergency. Pets can become confused, wander away, and end up lost during a crisis. The important thing is to find and secure your pet while you can.
- Make sure your pets have current identification A pet’s ID tag should contain his name and medical needs, along with owner contact info. Microchips are considered the most permanent form of identification and one of the best ways to ensure reunion if owners and pets are separated.
- Invest in a rescue alert sticker: This easy-to-use sticker will let others know that pets are inside your home. Make sure it is visible by placing it on or near your front door and that it includes the types and number of pets in your home.
- Prepare traveling kits and emergency supplies. Pet supplies and first-aid kit should be stored as close as possible to an exit. Make sure that they’re easy to carry and that everyone in the family knows where these are. Some obvious things to include that could come in handy are: pet clothing in case of cold or wet weather, toys and treats to distract your pet, and even a Thunder Shirt for nervous pets.
- Plan for temporary confinement: Buildings such as houses and apartments can be destroyed during a disaster. Have a plan for keeping your pet safely confined, such as in a crate.
- Arrange for a safe haven for your pets in the event of evacuation. If your home isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for your pets either. However, not all rescue shelters accept pets, and so it’s important to determine ahead of time where you’ll bring your pets. Some possible options are: relatives and friends, boarding kennels, or hotels and motels that accept pets. You could also use the buddy system: Exchange pet information, evacuation plans, and house keys with a trusted neighbor or nearby friend. Then if you’re caught outside evacuation lines when an evacuation order is issued, someone else can evacuate your pets for you.
- Identify emergency veterinary facilities outside of your immediate area: If a disaster impacts the community, local emergency veterinary facilities may be closed. Make sure you know the location of other emergency facilities. You can also check with your veterinarian to find out if they have an emergency plan.
- Practice makes perfect: Practice packing emergency supplies and driving to and locating emergency shelters near you. This will help you stay calmer in the event of an actual disaster, when tensions run high.
- Comfort your pets: Disasters can be stressful not just to owners but also to pets. Use a calm presence and soft voice if they’re anxious following a disaster or during an evacuation. If neither comforts your pets, they might prefer toys or blankets or a Thunder Shirt.
- Know where to search for lost pets: When pets become lost during a disaster, they typically end up at a local shelter. You should have the addresses and phone numbers of local shelters in multiple places that are easy to access. Also, even if you aren’t ready to care for your pet, don’t delay searching for your pet. They could get adopted out or even put down.
For more detailed information on pet-disaster preparedness, check out LAA Pet Talk’s two articles on the topic published last year.
For detailed information on helping pets other than dogs and cats during a disaster, check out the two below sites: