Floods, wildfire, hurricanes, and other natural disasters are a fact of life. TV newscasts have broadcast images of pets who were left behind when disaster struck... and the stories of families who lost their pets are heart-wrenching. Taking a few moments now to prepare your family, including the family pet, for an emergency may mean the difference between keeping your pet safe or being forced to abandon him to an uncertain fate. Here are a few pet-related things to consider for your emergency planning:
Put important documentation and emergency supplies in an easily accessible place.
Gather together several days worth of food, water, and medication. Include in this package your pet's vaccination records, license information, ID numbers, recent photos, medical information / dosages, and contact information for your veterinarian.
Other items to include are a pet first aid kit, extra leashes/collars, bedding, and toys.
Put everything together in a bag or tote so that you can easily grab it and go if the need arises. Keep it in a safe and easy-to-remember location.
Don't wait until the last minute to evacuate. ALWAYS take your pet with you!
As soon as you hear that there may be an order to evacuate, call ahead to pet-friendly accommodations outside the danger zone and secure a room for your family and pets. You can also ask family, friends, veterinary clinics, or pet-friendly shelters if they have room for you (you may want to print out and keep a list of possible accommodations in your emergency pack). Then gather everyone together and go! Do not wait for a mandatory evacuation order - if you do, you may be told to leave your pets behind.
Even if you think you might only be gone for a short time, take your pets with you. It's hard to know when an evacuation order will be lifted - it may be much longer than you think, and your pet is defenceless without you. Abandoned pets can suffer both physical and emotional trauma when left behind. They can be injured, lost, or die from starvation, exposure to the elements, attack from predators, or accidents.
Your pet should always wear up-to-date identification.
A collar with license tags, a tattoo, and a microchip are all ways to help your pet be returned to you if he gets lost. Note that collars (and tags) can fall off and tattoos might not be readable - so more than one form of ID is best. Make sure the contact information for your pet is accurate.
Secure your pets if you think you will be evacuating.
Gather your pets together if you hear that you may need to evacuate. Put dogs on leash or harness and place cats inside carriers to prevent them from escaping in the confusion.
Have a back-up.
There may be times when disaster strikes and you're not home, or you won't be able to get home in time. Arrange for an emergency back-up such as a neighbor or friend. Ask them if they'll retrieve your pets if you're not home and an emergency arises. Ideally, this person would be somehow who knows your pets and your pets are comfortable with him. Set up a predetermined meeting spot just in case you aren't able to get in contact.