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DISASTER PREPAREDNESS

Disaster preparedness for your pet

 

We prepare for all sorts of things in our lives—school, weddings, jobs, vacations—but we often overlook getting prepared for the unthinkable. What if a natural disaster struck your area? From hurricanes, to fires, and even man-made disasters, would you know what to do to keep your family safe, including your pets? Pets can make needing to evacuate your home more complicated, but if you plan ahead you will be able to get through it.


EVACUATION ROUTE
First off, do you know your evacuation route in the event of an emergency? If you don’t, you’ll need to find out. Some municipalities have all the information you need on the web, so a simple internet search can save you some time. If you can’t find it, try calling your town or city clerk for the information. Ask about the evacuation route and where the designated shelters will be located.


FINDING SHELTER
Unfortunately, not every emergency shelter accepts pets. If you are forced out of your home you’ll need to know beforehand where you can stay with your pet. If you already know your evacuation route and designated emergency locations, do some research to find out if there are any pet-friendly hotels or motels in the safety area. Include their names and phone numbers on an emergency list (which should also include the name and number of your veterinarian) that you keep with your emergency kit.


You should also check with your veterinarian’s office or your local shelter. They may already have figured out acceptable locations for pets during an emergency. You might also want to check out any groomers, training facilities, kennels, rescues, or pet daycares in the “safe zone.” These businesses may welcome pets during emergencies. Of course there’s always friends and family—make arrangements with anyone who’s able and willing to house your pet, and in turn you could do the same for them!


CREATE AN EMERGENCY KIT
Gather all of your pet’s essentials together and keep them in a container that will be easy to grab and move, like a large gym bag or big plastic container. Depending on your pet, your disaster kit may include the following:
 

  • Bottled water
  • Bowls for food and water
  • Carrier (labeled with your contact information)
  • Cleaning supplies Collar with ID tag
  • Copies of vaccination records/medical records/microchip records
  • Current photo of your pet (in case he gets lost)
  • Emergency list that should include: name/phone number of vet, pet-friendly locations; any medical issues; any behavior issues
  • First aid kit
  • Grooming supplies
  • Kitty litter/litter box
  • Leash/harness Manual can opener
  • Wee-Wee pads
  • Pet bed
  • Pet food (a one- to two-week supply) Spoon/scoop
  • Treats Toys/chews
  • Your pet’s medication (sealed in plastic baggies)

EVACUATION STICKERS
Purchase a pet rescue sticker (you can find them online) and attach it to your front door, window, or on your refrigerator door. It should indicate the type of pet you have, how many pets you have, and your contact information. This will help alert rescuers that pets are inside if they need to enter your home when you are not there.


INSIDE THE HOME
If you cannot evacuate in time, or there is no evacuation order but you are dealing with harsh weather conditions, you’ll need to make sure your pet is safe inside the home. You must bring your pet inside; do not leave him tied out in the backyard or loose in a fenced-in area. Some pets react strongly to severe weather, and a normally docile pet might show signs of fear by hiding or even snapping at you. Bring your pets inside early so they are not exposed to danger or tempted to run off.

Make sure your pets are wearing a collar and ID tag even when they’re inside. If you have cats and dogs in the home, be sure to separate them. Even the best of buddies may react badly during stressful times. Don’t forget to try and comfort your pet—the soothing contact may make the both of you a little less afraid.


LOST PET
Even with the best laid plans, there is a chance your pet could be lost during a disaster. It’s important you start to look for him as soon as you are able and it’s safe to return to the area. Use the photo of your pet from your emergency kit to make flyers. Visit shelters and rescues around the area. Try using social media to spread the word. If your pet was wearing an ID collar and is microchipped, you’ll have a better chance of finding him.
 

When it comes down to it, dealing with a disaster is all about the planning. If you are able to research and come up with solutions for you and your pet during an emergency, you will be much more clearheaded and able to handle anything that comes your way.


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