It isn’t something we like to think about, but disaster preparation is something you need to do for EVERY member of your family, the four legged ones too. Here are some steps you should take as soon as possible to make sure your pets will stay safe, no matter what.
Make sure you have a sticker in the window letting emergency personnel know how many pets you have and if they are cats, dogs, etc. This will help emergency workers know how many they need to get out of the house in case of evacuation. If you are evacuated, try to leave a note over the sticker saying you took your pets with you.
Make sure you have a crate or pet friendly container handy to transport your pets to a shelter. Even the shelters that accept pets do require animals to be crated.
Call shelters AHEAD of an emergency. When a storm is approaching it is too late to spend the time finding some place to go. Learn where the usual shelters are set up near your home and which ones accept pets. Even some Red Cross shelters do not accept pets. Know ahead of time where you can go so you can get there quickly and safely.
It is also a good idea to talk to friends and family in your area. If you need to leave quickly for an emergency, would they be able to assist with your pet? In a smaller scale emergency, which friends or family could “baby-sit” for you for a short time?
Just like humans, pets need an emergency supply kit as well. According to the ASPCA here are some items you should keep inside:
- Pet first-aid kit and guide book (ask your vet what to include, or visit the ASPCA Store to buy one online)
- 3-7 days’ worth of canned (pop-top) or dry food (be sure to rotate every two months)
- Disposable litter trays (aluminum roasting pans are perfect)
- Litter or paper toweling
- Liquid dish soap and disinfectant
- Disposable garbage bags for clean-up
- Pet feeding dishes
- Extra collar or harness as well as an extra leash
- Photocopies of medical records and a waterproof container with a two-week supply of any medicine your pet requires (Remember, food and medications need to be rotated out of your emergency kit—otherwise they may go bad or become useless.)
- Bottled water, at least 7 days’ worth for each person and pet (store in a cool, dry place and replace every two months)
- A traveling bag, crate or sturdy carrier, ideally one for each pet
- Blanket (for scooping up a fearful pet)
- Recent photos of your pets (in case you are separated and need to make “Lost” posters)
- Especially for cats: Pillowcase or EvackSack, toys, scoopable litter
- Especially for dogs: Extra leash, toys and chew toys, a week’s worth of cage liner
It is also important to have a photo of you with your pet. If you pet is taken to a rescue facility without you, at some point you will need to go and prove ownership to be able to pick up your pet. A photo is a great way to do this. A microchip is even better. If your pet has a microchip, keep the chip’s number with you at all times. Also, make note of the company that stores this number. I keep this in my phone at all times.
Sometimes you need to take shelter within your home. Make sure you pick out and identify areas in your home where your pet can be safe with out if you have seek shelter within your home. If you are spending time in the basement for example, bring down their favorite toy or blanket so they will feel as comfortable as possible. A comfortable dog will be calm and easy to manage.
In order to make sure you pet receives the best and quickest care, it is important to preregister your pet with local vet. facilities. Many allow you to give them your pet’s history, emergency numbers, medications, etc so that if your pet needs to be treated quickly, all necessary information is already on hand.
Pet emergencies can be expensive. It is important to have a saving fund set up. If you don’t have a separate fund, open a seperate credit card that will only be used for pet emergencies. The difference between being prepared and not could be catastrophic.