Hurricane season is in full swing now. Do you have a plan to keep your pet safe during an emergency?
According to the CDC, even if you try to create a safe place for them, pets left behind during a disaster are likely to be injured, lost, or worse. So, prepare now and include your pat in your preparedness plans. There are many things you can do to help protect your pet in an emergency, such as:
- Make sure your pet(s) wear collars and tags with up-to-date contact information and other identification.
- Microchip your pet(s) – this is one of the best ways to ensure that you and your pet are reunited if you are separated. Always be sure to register the microchip with the manufacturer and keep your contact information up to date with the microchip company.
- Purchase a pet carrier for each of your pets (write your pet’s name, your name, and contact information on each carrier).
- Familiarize your pet with its carrier before a crisis.
- Practice transporting your pet by taking them for rides in a vehicle similar to one you would be evacuating in.
- Practice catching your pet, if needed.
- Keep a leash and/or carrier near the exit.
- Make sure you have proper equipment for pets to ride in the car (carriers, harnesses, pet seatbelts).
- If you do not have a car, make arrangements with neighbors, family, and friends. You can also contact your local government to learn about transportation options during a disaster.
What if you’re sheltering in place during a disaster? It is important for you to make sure the areas of your home you’re staying in during a disaster is pet-friendly. You’ll want to choose a room with preferably no (or few) windows, make sure to remove any toxic chemicals or plants that your pet can get into, and make sure to close off any small areas the pet can get stuck in (such as vents or beneath heavy furniture).
In the event an evacuation is needed, there are many things you can do beforehand to make the process as smooth and easy as possible for you and your pet. First, you can contact your local emergency management office and see if they offer accommodations for pets and their owners. Be mindful that many local human shelters may not accept pets during an evacuation, unless they are service animals, so it’s best to plan for an alternative. You can check with friends or family outside of the evacuation area or try to find a pet-friendly hotel:
- bringfido.com or call 877-411-FIDO
- dogfriendly.com or call 888-281-5170
- pet-friendly-hotels.net or call 866-966-3046
Preparing and having a disaster kit ready for your pet will also help an evacuation go smoothly. What you put in it should be individualized to your pet’s needs, and you can ask for your veterinarian’s help in putting it together. But, the CDC recommends having at least these items in your pet’s disaster kit:
- Leash, collar with ID, and harness
- Appropriate-sized pet carriers with bedding and toys
- Food (in airtight waterproof containers or cans) and water for at least 2 weeks for each pet
- Food and water bowls and a manual can opener
- Plastic bags for dog poop and a litter box and litter for cats
- Cleaning supplies for accidents (paper towels, plastic bags, disinfectant)
- Medications for at least 2 weeks, instructions and treats used to give the medications, and a pharmacy contact for refills
- Flea and tick medication and heartworm preventative for 1 month
- Photocopied veterinary records (rabies certificate, vaccinations, recent FeLV/FIV test results for cats, prescriptions, etc.)
- Registration information
- Recent photos of your pet
- Contact information for you and friends or relatives
- Boarding instructions, such as feeding schedule, medications, and any known allergies and behavior problems
- Microchip information
- A pet first aid book and first aid kit
- Documents, medications, and food should be stored in waterproof containers
The CDC also warns about the increased danger of disease or injury for you and your pet during a disaster. But there are some easy tricks and habits to keep during a disaster that will help you and your pet stay healthy:
- Wash your hands after handling your pet, its food, or its waste.
- Do not let your pet lick your face or hands.
- Keep your pet up-to-date on all vaccinations and heartworm, flea, and tick preventatives.
- Practice safe handling of your pet, because your pet may behave differently during a stressful situation.
- Keep your pet in a carrier or on a leash.
- Do not allow your pet to interact with other animals, especially wildlife and stray animals.
- Report any bite wounds to medical personnel immediately.
- Properly clean and disinfect cages and litterboxes. Wash your pet’s bedding regularly.
- Avoid stagnant water, especially after flooding occurring after natural disasters.
- Don’t allow pets to play in or drink contaminated water.
But the main question and worry for all pet owners during a disaster is “What do I do if I am separated from my pet?” First, you need to make sure your family is in a safe location before you start looking for your pet. If you are in a shelter that houses pets, inform one of the pet caretakers and try to give them any documentation and pictures you have of your pet to better help them in their search. If you’ve been cleared to leave the shelter and return home but your pet hasn’t been found, then contact animal control. Lastly, call the microchip company to make sure all the information about you and your pet is as up to date as possible.
Keeping your pet safe during an emergency doesn’t have to be frustrating or stressful. As long as you take the time now to prepare, you will be able to easily walk right out the door in no time, with your beloved pet, should an emergency come.