Our pet friends need to be included in our disaster plan. Disasters, big or small, can happen in a moment, and it is easy to overlook an essential member of our family, so get a pet emergency plan in place.
Your Pet Emergency Plan
We all want what is best for our pets, and knowing what to do beforehand can save your special friend’s life. The Humane Society and Department of Animal Services have provided some excellent suggestions for your family pet’s disaster preparedness.
Remember, you don’t have to do it all at once. A little effort goes a long way. Do a task once a week or month. Use your family calendar to get started and put your goal where you can see it. Please give yourself a HUGE STAR when it is checked off your list.
Let’s get started!
Pet Rescue Window Decal
This sticker will alert rescue workers that you have pets. Please place it in a visible location outside your home, indicating the number of pets, your veterinarian’s name, and their number. If you must evacuate, write on the sticker” EVACUATED” across for emergency personnel.
Place stickers on your front and back windows closest to your main entrances. Also, place one in your fuse box cover. Make sure to include your boat or RV vehicle if your pet travels with you.
Check with your county shelter, veterinary office, or local fire department for free stickers. You can also receive a free pet safety pack, including your free rescue alert sticker, if you sign up at ASPCS (American Association for Cruelty to Animals).
Animal Shelter Emergency Preparedness Plan: Arrange for a Temporary Home
Think of a location to which you can bring your pets and NEVER LEAVE THEM BEHIND. If it isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for them. NEVER leave your pet chained outside or in their enclosure during an emergency. A neighbor, friend, family member and shelter are all possible temporary homes.
Check with your local shelters, kennels, animal boarding facilities, or veterinary facilities to see if they assist should it be necessary for an emergency.
Check with the American Red Cross for additional pet safety tips and see which shelters will include pets.
When disaster struck Southern California, the 2007 firestorms gave pet owners a lot to consider for future preparation. We learned that many homeowners didn’t take their pets with them because they needed to leave immediately. It was too late.
Animals were found roaming, and volunteers or rescue workers brought them to shelters or temporary housing. If you need to leave your home quickly, leave a door, window, or backdoor open.
Better yet, don’t wait, in most cases, earlier warnings had been issued, and homeowners decided to wait till the last minute to get out. This compromises everyone’s safety!
Call hotels and motels outside your immediate area to find out if they allow pets. Ask about any stipulations on number, size, and species. Ask if a “no pet” policy would be suspended in an emergency.
Have a list of animal shelter emergency preparedness plan places handy, and phone before for a reservation as early as you think you might have to abandon your home. For help identifying pet-friendly lodgings, check out these websites:
Pet Disaster Preparedness Traveling Kits
If you don’t have extra funds for this, be creative. Consider “craigslist” for free or used items or garage sales too. I have saved hundreds of dollars for my family on free “craigslist” items. To be successful for the “free” stuff, you need to check frequently and respond immediately; usually, five minutes or less has been my experience.
Are you the “Ant and Grasshopper”? Do your planning bit by bit unless you are the weekend warrior type who gets it done in a flash! Provo to you, I say!
For the rest of us…slow and steady wins the race!
Keep a labeled evacuation kit and supplies for your pet as you get started. Make sure everyone knows where it is located and that it can easily be grabbed in an emergency.
Your Pet Disaster Kit Should Include:
- A leash, harness, or pet carrier large enough for your pet to stand and turn around in and a muzzle for any aggressive or defensive dog around others. Include a stake and tie-out for each dog.
- A properly fitting leather or nylon collar with a securely affixed license tag (for dogs) and ID tag (listing your address and home number).
- Microchip your pet for permanent identification, and keep your information current with the microchip company and your local animal shelter database.
- Pet food and water are kept in transportable containers enough for one week. Preferably dry pet food. Include an unbreakable water bowl or dispenser and a sturdy food bowl or feeder. Include a manually operated can opener and plastic can lid for canned food. Check out your local dollar or 99-cent store; you can find some supplies such as bowls, can openers, and other items.
- Copy your current veterinary records in a waterproof container or heavy-duty sealed baggie, including rabies shots. Proof of current vaccinations may be required by boarding facilities.
- Supplies to collect and dispose of your pet wastes such as plastic bags, scooper, cat litter, etc.
- Several recent photographs of your pet are kept in a waterproof container in case your animal gets lost.
If you have more resources, ideas, or items to include, please share them with us! If you have had an experience with a disaster evacuation with your pet, let us know how you did or didn’t do it.
This will help us all be more aware for next time!