Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies
For many people, pets are more than "just pets". They are beloved members of our families. It only makes sense then that we'd want to ensure their safety as best we can when an emergency strikes. An emergency could be anything from a family emergency that causes you to have to leave the home quickly, to something like a natural disaster, injury or illness, or house fire.
It's important to plan for emergencies ahead of time. While it's true that you may never need to use your emergency plan, as the old saying goes it is better to be safe than sorry. The outcomes of some types of emergency situations will hinge on how well you are prepared and how quickly you are able to handle the situation. Hopefully you will never have to face a serious emergency, but just to be on the safe side here are some tips to help you prepare for the worst.
- Create pet emergency kits before disaster strikes. Emergency kits should include everything your pets will need to survive if you have to evacuate your home. Make sure to include enough supplies for all of your animals if you have multiple pets. You should include up to a two week supply of food for each pet. Don't forget a can opener if your pet eats canned food! Treats and chew toys can help make your animal more comfortable during a stressful time. You should also include about a two week supply of water for each pet, in case local water sources become contaminated. Bowls, extra collars and leashes, grooming supplies, simple cleaning supplies (such as poop bags), and toys are all items that will probably come in handy during an emergency. If your pet is on any type of medication, don't forget to bring that along as well as an animal first aid kit. Other important items include copies of your pets licenses and medical records, vet contact information, photos of each animal, blankets, and any other important items you can think of. Your emergency kit contents should be stored in an easy to carry water proof bag.
- Keep a list of local animal friendly shelters and hotels. Many shelters set up for humans during disasters do not allow animals. Include contact information for your local animal shelters, they may be able to help house your pet in an emergency or recommend pet friendly locations for you to go. Make sure to keep your pet current on vaccinations and health check ups. Many pet boarding facilities will require proof that your pet is healthy and up to date on vaccinations before taking them in.
- Make sure to keep your pets ID tags and Micro chips up to date. Your pet's ID should include your address as well as phone number, in case you cannot be reached by phone. It can also be beneficial to add the phone number of a friend or family member, in case you cannot be reached.
- In case you are not at home with your pet when disaster strikes, place a "Pets Inside" safety sticker in an easily viewable location so that emergency personnel know what types and how many pets to look for inside your home. Keep a similar card inside your wallet so that if you are found injured and unable to communicate, people will know you have pets at home who may also need assistance.
- Make sure you have a way to carry and confine each pet in your home. For most animals, that will probably mean having a properly sized pet carrier. For dogs, have a secure collar or harness and a leash somewhere easily accessible. Carriers and extra leashes/collars can be kept in the same area as your pet survival kit. Make sure to store them somewhere easy to access.
- If you are expecting severe weather or any other kind of natural disaster in your area, keep your pets inside. If your animals are hard to catch, as some cats and small animals tend to be, keep them in a confined area to make catching them for evacuation easier.
- Try your hardest not to leave any pets behind. If you absolutely must leave them, make sure that they have access to food and water. If, for some reason, you cannot return to check on and retrieve your pets promptly, alert friends and relatives in the area, or emergency services such as the local police station or animal rescue about your situation. Try to find someone who is able to get to your home to retrieve or at least check up on your pet.
- Remember that emergency situations are not only stressful for humans, but they can also be very stressful for our pets. Try your hardest to keep your animals calm and comfortable. Keep in mind that injured or stressed animals can sometimes react aggressively. If you have more than one animal, make sure to watch any interactions closely. Even if they are best friends at home, the stress of the situation could cause them to act differently than what you're used too. Toys and extra attention from loved owners can go a long way to helping a scared pet deal with his/her stress. Try to stick as closely as possible to your pets regular schedule. Anything you can do to help elevate stress will go a long way towards making a difficult time a bit more bearable for both you and your animals.