A disaster is, by definition, a sudden unexpected event that causes great destruction or loss of life. Disasters are scary, but having a plan in place so you know just what to do in case of an emergency is the most important thing you can do to ensure your pet’s safety. If you haven’t already made a disaster plan, there’s no better time than the present! While you’re making your plans, be sure to include your four-legged family members, too. Some things to consider when making plans for your pets:
Figure out where you’ll go
Depending upon the type of disaster and the extent of the damage, you may be required to leave your home. If it’s not safe for you to stay in the home, you should not leave your pets there either. Even if your own structure is safe, it may be some time before you can return home to care for your pets. Many disaster shelters and hotels don’t accept pets, so do your homework now. Some options to consider:
- Hotels and motels
- Friends, relatives, and neighbors
- Animal shelters
- Pet boarding facility or kennel
- Your veterinarian
Don’t assume that pets are allowed. Take the time now to call and find out which of these options will allow your pets in the event of an emergency. Because the disaster may be widespread, be sure to include options outside of your local area in your list of pet-friendly places.
Steps to take now
Get organized, gather the supplies you’ll need, and prepare now so that when disaster strikes, you’re as prepared as possible. Things to do now:
- Make sure all of your pets have current identification, ideally a microchip as well as a collar and tag. Since you may have to leave your home, include your cell number rather than your home phone number.
- Have a current color photo of your pets which you can use to identify them to others should your pets become lost.
- If you don’t already have them, purchase the items needed to safely transport your pets including a secure carrier for each pet as well as leashes and collars. Label each carrier now with your contact information.
- Because many disasters strike without warning and you can’t evacuate in advance, designate a “safe room” where you’ll all meet. Assign someone the responsibility of gathering the pets into the safe room. Affix a pet rescue alert sticker in a prominent place so rescue workers will know the number of pets in the household.
- Make a list of the supplies you’ll need for your pet’s disaster preparedness kit, and gather them together. Place the kit in an easy-to-access place and make sure everyone in the family knows the location of the kit.
What to include in your pet’s disaster preparedness kit:
In addition to the supplies you’ll need for your family, here are the basics you should include in your pet’s disaster preparedness kit:
- Bottled water, pet food, and pet food bowls. Don’t forget a can opener if you’re including canned food. If you’re bringing dry food, make sure it’s in a waterproof container.
- A supply of your pet’s medications, and your vet’s contact information.
- Cat litter, litter box and scooper for cats, or pooper scooper bags for dogs
- A pet first aid kit
- If you have the space, include a few toys and a familiar blanket or pet bed.
- If you must leave your pets with caregivers, prepare written pet care instructions.
A well thought-out disaster plan will help your pet weather the emergency with less stress, and could even save your pet’s life. Hopefully you’ll never have to implement your disaster plan, and if not, at least you’ll sleep easier knowing you and your furry family members are prepared.