It’s Spring and the weather is volatile with extreme rain, flooding, tornados, straight-line winds, raging wildfires, and more. All too often, we see photos of dogs or cats left behind to fend for themselves: clinging to a roof surrounded by water, or shivering alone in a shelter because they have been separated from their people. Fires, floods, tornados, hurricanes, power outages, and environmental disasters (like train accidents that spill chemicals) can all cause home and/or area evacuations. Make sure you have an emergency plan to care for your pets in case disaster strikes. Here are a few things you can do today to be prepared for the unexpected.
- Make sure your pet has identification.
- THIS IS CRITICALLY IMPORTANT to ensuring you can be reunited with your pet if separated.
- Microchip your pet, and register the information in a pet recovery database.
- Collars and ID Tags: Your pet should always wear a collar with his name, your name, phone number and address, and his latest rabies tag. You should also keep a back-up collar with identical tags in an emergency kit.
- Assemble an emergency supply kit for your pets.
- Food: Include enough kibble for 3 days in a waterproof container. Don’t forget the can opener if your pets like their food canned!
- Water: Include enough drinking water for 3 days (that’s at least 3 gallons of water per pet)
- Medicine: Keep 3 days dosage in a sturdy sealed plastic bag inside a waterproof container. Be sure to label each bag with the pet’s name and the medicine names and directions. Also include a business card from your pet’s veterinarian in the bag.
- First Aid supplies: Include things both you and your pets might need…cotton bandage rolls, bandage tape and scissors; antibiotic ointment; isopropyl alcohol and saline solution.
- Carrier(s): Sturdy, comfortable and safe crates or carriers are important to have on hand if you have to evacuate with your pets. It’s also a good place to store the emergency supply kit so you don’t forget anything in the rush to evacuate.
- Sanitation supplies: Include things like pet litter, paper towels, trash bags, and chlorine bleach for a disinfectant (9 parts water to 1 part bleach).
- Photo: In case you become separated, a recent picture of you with your pet helps document ownership and allows others to assist you in finding/identifying your pet. Be sure to write your name and contact info, along with your pet’s name, veterinarian name and phone numbers, and other critical information on the back of the photo. Make sure the photos are in waterproof containers.
- A comfort item: something to ease the stress like a favorite toy, blanket and of course, lots of treats!
- Make a plan to get away.
- Plan and Practice: Depending on the type of emergency you are facing, your first decision is whether to stay and shelter-in-place, or evacuate. In some cases, you will be told to evacuate. If you must evacuate, take your pets with you! It is important that you have a plan for quickly and safely assembling your pets. It will be a stressful, fearful time for you and for them. So it is important that you have a plan, and have practiced it at least once.
- Where to go: If you have to leave your home, where will you go? Some shelters will not accept you with your pets. So, consider the type of lodging you and your pets will need. Do you have a list of friends/family you can call to accommodate you and your pets? Area hotels / motels? Boarding facility, kennel or animal hospital? Collect all those phone numbers and addresses. Keep contact information for all of them on your phone, and in the emergency supply kit.
- Develop a pet-care buddy system.
Create a plan with neighbors, friends or relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for, and/or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so. Talk with your pet-care buddy about your evacuation plans and show them where you keep your pet’s emergency supply kit. Also designate specific locations, one in your immediate neighborhood and another farther away, where you will meet in the event of an emergency. Make sure you have each other’s contact information stored in your phone.
- Get a “PETS INSIDE!” sticker for each door and prominent window in your home.
These stickers alert firefighters and rescue workers that pets may be inside. You can get the stickers from your veterinarian, or use a Sharpie and sturdy paper to make one to tape to the glass from the inside. Be sure to include the number of pets in your home on each sticker. Consider putting a phone number on the sticker for where you can be reached in an emergency. If you are forced to evacuate, if time permits, leave behind a note to say “Evacuated With Pets”.
- Update your plan and your supply kit twice a year.
The Spring and Fall Daylight Savings time-change weekends are a good time to update your emergency plans and restock/refresh the food, water and medicines in your supply kits. It’s a good time to change the batteries in your smoke detectors and to be sure all safety measures in your household are up-to-date.
Being prepared in case of emergencies is important for survival, and reduces difficulties, stress and worry. What’s best for you is almost always best for your pets too. So please, take the time NOW to make an emergency plan for you and your pets.
Stay safe and enjoy the summer!