When disaster strikes or a crises arises, emergency preparedness for pets is an area that is often overlooked. You have a plan for every person in your household. You have stockpiled supplies for your family. But, what about your pets?
If a situation is unsafe for a person,it is likely dangerous for an animal, too. They may panic or become scared and nervous. They can be injured or lost.
Whether you have to shelter-in or evacuate, the best way to keep your family safe is to have a plan. And, that should include your pets as well. They’re family too, right?
Preparedness Plan for Pets
1. Arrange A Safe Place. Since many emergency shelters will not allow animals, it is important that you determine where to take your pets if you need to evacuate your home. For their safety, and the safety of others, they should never be left behind. Make a list of pet friendly places, with addresses and phone numbers. Keep this information in your emergency preparedness kit and/or in a place where it can be found quickly.
- Identify boarding facilities or kennels that may be willing to shelter your pet in an emergency situation. Ask your veterinarian to recommend reputable locations. And, don’t forget to include their phone numbers on your list, so you can contact them as soon as evacuation becomes necessary.
- Contact your local animal shelter and ask if they are able to provide temporary shelter or long-term foster care for your pets.
- Make a list of pet friendly hotels or motels outside your immediate area. Be sure to ask about their policies concerning the number, size, and types of animals allowed.
- Ask friends or relatives who live outside your immediate area if they would be willing to care for your pet until your situation improves.
2. ID Your Pets. Make sure all your pets are wearing collars with identification tags. The ID tags should contain your pet’s name, your phone number, name and number of your veterinarian clinic, and any important medical needs. Even indoor animals should wear tags, since they could escape in an emergency situation. And, be sure to keep the information current so you can be reached easily if you and your pet are ever separated.
3. Consider Microchipping Your Pets. In some cases, ID tags may fall off or become lost. Not only are microchips more permanent, they are also able to store a lot of information. Plus, they can be read with a special scanner at almost every animal shelter, veterinary clinic, or boarding facility. Make sure to register your pets and keep all information on the microchips up-to-date. Natural disasters and/or long-term power outages can make communication difficult. So, remember to include several contact numbers for yourself as well as friends or relatives in case you are unable to be reached.
4. Assemble A Pet Emergency Kit. Just like other members of your household, it is important to stock up on items that your pets may need in a disaster or emergency situation. You can ask your vet or local animal shelter for a list of recommended items, but some of the most important ones include:
- Pet first aid kit – and a guide book for treating injuries.
- 3-7 days (minimum) of canned or dry food. Store dry food in a waterproof container to protect from flooding or water damage. If you prefer cans, don’t forget a non-electric opener. Rotate food supplies every 3-6 months to keep them fresh.
- 3-7 days of water (minimum). Rotate water supplies every 3 months.
- Litter box or disposable litter trays, litter, scoop.
- Items for cleaning up after your pets such as plastic bags, paper towels, and disinfectant wipes.
- Food and water bowls/containers.
- Extra collar, leash, and/or harness for each of your pets.
- Medications. If your pets take any medications, be sure to have at least a one week supply, plus any information needed for refills if necessary.
- Photocopies (or a USB) of medical and vaccination records. Store these in a waterproof container.
- Travelling crate, bag, or carrier. If possible, it is best to have one for each pet. However, this may not always be ideal,especially if you have larger pets. Be aware, that there may be times when your pets will need to be restrained or confined. So, try to make sure the cage or carrier has enough room for them to stand up or turn around. Write your pet’s name, your name, and contact information on each cage or carrier.
- Blankets or towels
- Toys (if possible)
- Pet bed (if possible)
- Photos of your pets. In the event of separation, this may be necessary for identification purposes.
- List of important information such as feeding schedules, medical conditions, and behavior concerns. If you have to leave your pets at a shelter or boarding facility, this information could be helpful.
5. Identify Emergency Veterinary Clinics. Where will you take your pets if the case of injury or illness? If a disaster strikes your local veterinarian may not be open for business. Find out if there will be emergency facilities set up, or make a list of alternate clinics located along evacuation routes.
6. Arrange A Buddy System. Make an agreement with neighbors to evacuate or care for your pets in case you aren’t home when an emergency arises.
7. Have A Temporary Confinement Plan. Disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes can cause a lot of structural damage. Walls, windows, or doors may be destroyed. So, keeping your pets confined may be necessary for their safety. If sheltering-in, be sure to keep your pets in a safe area away from any hazards. You may also need a crate, cage, leash, or harness so they don’t escape or wander away. Plan for evacuation by having everything you need to transport your pets in a vehicle. You can help prepare them by having a practice drill. Put your pets in the crate, carrier, or harness and take them for a ride in the car. Just like people, animals will respond much better if they know what to expect.
8. Create A Flyer or Handout. You can make this ahead of time, put it in a waterproof container, and store it in your emergency kit. Or, you can have all the information you need on a USB key. This will be helpful in case you have to make a “Lost Pet” poster. Be sure to include a current photo of your pet, their name, a physical description, and contact information.
9. Know Where To Look For Lost Pets. If you and your pets become separated, a flyer or handout may be helpful. However, authorities and concerned citizens will often take lost animals to local shelters. Keep a list of the addresses and phone numbers for shelters in your area. This is the first – and often the best – place to look for lost pets.
10. Use A Rescue Alert Sticker. The ASPCA and other animal organizations recommend putting a rescue alert sticker on your door or front window. It should be placed where it is visible to anyone approaching your home. This tells first responders and rescue workers that there may be pets inside your house. Include the types and number of pets in your household as well as the contact information for your veterinary clinic. If you evacuate with your pets, write EVACUATED across the sticker so no one wastes precious time searching for them.
Caution: Take the time to write on the sticker ONLY if it is safe to do so. If time does not allow, or if the situation is too dangerous, do not risk it.
11. Review The Plan. When it comes to pet safety, make sure everyone in your household understands their job. Who is responsible for collecting the pet emergency kit? Who will gather the animals? Who will write on the rescue alert sticker? Planning ahead and being able to respond quickly will help ensure that both the people and the pets in your home are safe and protected.