A vacation may be the only time most people put in any amount of real planning and they do it to ensure they have a good time, yet how much more important is it to have a plan in place for you, your family and your pets in the event of a natural disaster or emergency? Many people assume such an event will never happen to them, until it does. Those who prepare now will have the peace of mind they are ready regardless of the unexpected and will probably experience less difficulty, stress, worry and fear if the unthinkable does happen.
Just as you should have an emergency kit with supplies for you and your family, you should also have a kit of emergency supplies for the furry members of your family. Here is a list of
recommended items found at www.ready.gov/pets.
· FOOD: Keep at least three days of food in an airtight, waterproof container.
· WATER: Store at least three days of water specifically for each pet, in addition to water you
need for you and your family.
· MEDICINES: Keep an extra supply of medicines your pet takes on a regular basis in a waterproof container.
· FIRST AID KIT: Talk to your veterinarian about what is most appropriate for your pet’s emergency needs if they have a specific medical condition. Most kits should include cotton bandage rolls, bandage tape and scissors, antibiotic ointment, flea and tick prevention, latex gloves, isopropyl alcohol and saline solution.
· COLLAR WITH ID TAG, HARNESS OR LEASH: Your pet should wear a collar with its rabies tag and identification at all times. Make sure your pet is also microchipped as this is a permanent way of identifying your pet should you become separated and their collar is lost or removed. Include a backup leash, collar and ID tag in your pet’s emergency supply kit.
· IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS: Have copies of your pet’s registration information, adoption papers, microchip number, vaccination and medical records. Place in a sealed plastic bag or waterproof container and add them to your pet’s emergency supply kit.
· CRATE OR OTHER PET CARRIER: If you need to evacuate in an emergency situation take your pets and animals with you.
· SANITATION: Include pet litter and litter box if appropriate, newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags and household chlorine bleach to provide for your pet’s sanitation needs. You can use bleach as a disinfectant (dilute 9 parts water to 1 part bleach), or in an emergency you can also use it to purify water if you can’t boil it. Use 8 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water, stir well and let it stand for 30 minutes before use. DO NOT USE SCENTED OR COLOR SAFE BLEACHES OR THOSE WITH ADDED CLEANERS. If water is cloudy, let it settle and then filter through a clean cloth, towel or a paper towel before adding bleach. Pack a clean eye dropper to be used for this purpose only.
· A PICTURE OF YOU AND YOUR PET TOGETHER: If you become separated from your pet during an emergency, a picture of you and your pet together will help you document ownership and allow other to help you to identify your pet. Include detailed information about species, breed, age, sex, color and distinguishing characteristics.
· FAMILIAR ITEMS: Put favorite toys, treats or bedding in your kit. Familiar items can help reduce stress for your pet.
Consider two kits. In one, put everything your pet will need to stay where you are and make it on your own. The other should be a lightweight, smaller version you can take with you if you and your pet(s) have to get away.
Have everything in your pet’s emergency supply kit ready to go now, don’t be caught short trying to buy food, for example, when the threat becomes more real. COVID-19 taught us that the shortages experienced were often due to other people buying up large quantities of supplies and keeping others from being able to meet their basic needs. Also remember that the food and medicines in your emergency kit should be checked periodically and rotated to make sure they are not out of date.
MAKE A PLAN FOR WHAT YOU WILL DO IN AN EMERGENCY.
Have a specific plan in place for what you will do in an emergency. Be prepared to evaluate the situation, use common sense, make adjustments to the plan if necessary and utilize whatever you have on hand to take care of yourself and ensure your pet’s safety during an emergency.
EVACUATE. Plan how you will gather your pets and where you will go. If you must evacuate take your pets with you. People leave their pets behind anticipating only being gone for a few hours or a day, yet many times they are not allowed back for days, weeks or longer. Keep in mind if you go to a public shelter your pet(s) may not be allowed to come inside. Arrange for appropriate lodging in advance depending on the number and type of animals in your care. Consider family or friends outside your immediate area who would be willing to have you and your pets stay with them should the need arise. Other options could include a hotel or motel that allows pets or a boarding facility, kennel or veterinary hospital close to an evacuation location or your family’s meeting place. Find out before an emergency happens if any of these are workable options.
DEVELOP A BUDDY SYSTEM. Make sure someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so. Plan with neighbors, friends or relatives to find someone now, share your evacuation plan with them and show them where you keep your pet’s emergency supply kit. Appoint a specific meeting place, one in your immediate neighborhood and another further away where you will meet in an emergency.
GATHER CONTACT INFORMATION FOR EMERGENCY ANIMAL TREATMENT. Make a list of contact information and addresses of area emergency animal hospitals and animal control agencies including the Humane Society and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Also gather names and contact information for veterinarians and animal hospitals in the area you are planning to evacuate to. Keep one copy of this information with you and another copy in your pet’s emergency supply kit.
MICROCHIP YOUR PET NOW. If you and your pet become separated during a natural disaster or emergency the best chance of being reunited is to have your pet microchipped. This permanent form of identification can be scanned by a veterinarian, shelter or animal control agency and you can be contacted if you have registered the chip and your contact information is current and correct. For more information on registering your pet’s microchip number with a national recovery data base and verifying/updating your contact information please read our blog post, “Registering and Updating Your Pet’s Microchip.” If you have adopted your dog or cat and they are microchipped they could still be registered under a previous owner or the shelter you adopted them from. If you don’t know if they are chipped or don’t have their number you can easily have them scanned at any of the locations mentioned above.
OBTAIN “PETS INSIDE” STICKERS. Fill out these stickers with the types of pets you have and how many of each kind and place on your front and back doors, windows or fence. This will alert firefighters and rescue workers that your pets are inside. Consider putting a phone number on the sticker where you can be reached in the event of an emergency. If you evacuate with your pets, remember to write the words,
“Evacuated with Pets” across the stickers. Google “pets inside stickers” to find retailers that sell these life saving stickers. See example below.
Stay well informed of what could happen and know what types of emergencies are likely to affect your region. By preparing now, you and your family, both human and furry members, will be ready for the unexpected.