Emergency Pet Preparedness
“Prior planning prevents poor performance.” This is a quote my father has told my siblings and I growing up, and still tells us to this day. It’s a quote that you can apply to many areas of your life and goes well with the topic I am about to discuss.
For the past few years, we’ve been hearing about this massive earthquake that can hit the PNW at any time and that there’s an impending disaster coming this way.
Question is, are you prepared for whatever is headed our way? Better yet, are you prepared for your animals? The best way to protect your household from the effects of a disaster is to have a disaster plan. And if you are a pet owner, that plan must include your pets. Being prepared can save their lives.
In the event of a disaster, if you must evacuate, the most important thing you can do to protect your pet is to evacuate them too. If it’s not safe for you to stay behind, then it’s not safe to leave pets behind either.
I’m going to go over a few things you can do to be more prepared for your animal in case of a disaster.
First, if you don’t already have one, you should start putting together a pet emergency preparedness kit. This could include the following: Medications and medical records (stored in a waterproof container), first aid kit (animal specific), sturdy leashes, harnesses, crates/carriers, current photos of your pet and even a picture of you and your pet together. A collar with an ID tag, enough food and water for several days, bowls, cat litter/pans, manual can opener, small poop bags, trash bags. Other sanitation necessitates like paper towels, household chlorine bleach (it can be used as a disinfectant if diluted correctly) and newspaper. Don’t forget bedding, towels, treats, and their favorite toys if easily transportable. It would also be a good idea to have information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavioral problems, and the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to foster or board your pets. Keep all of this in a storage container so you can just grab and go when needed. There are some pet emergency checklists out there that you can use to guide you that I will include at the end of this article.
Second, know a safe place to take your pet. Never assume that you would be allowed to bring your pet to an emergency shelter. Contact hotels and motels outside your local area to check their policies on accepting pets and restrictions on number, size, and species. I would also ask if “no pet” policies can be waived in an emergency. Keep a list of “pet friendly” places, including phone numbers, with your disaster supplies. You can also ask friends/relatives outside the affected area whether they can shelter your animal. Make a list of boarding facilities and veterinary offices that might be able to shelter animals in disaster emergencies (include their 24-hour telephone number). Check with your local animal shelter. Some shelters may be able to provide foster care or shelter for pets in an emergency. Just keep in mind that shelters have limited resources and are likely to be stretched thin during a local emergency.
Another important tidbit to keep in mind; in case you’re away during a disaster or evacuation order, make arrangements well in advance for someone you trust to take your pets and meet you at a specified location. Make sure you show them where your pets are likely to be if they hide when they’re nervous or scared and show them where your disaster supplies are kept. Go over their feeding schedule, and medications if they’re on any.
Third, make sure your pet(s) have current ID. Double check that their tags are up to date and securely fastened to your pet’s collar. I would also consider microchipping your pets. You’ll increase the chance of being reunited with pets who may get lost by having them microchipped; make sure the microchip is registered and up to date, and that it’s in your name.
I would like to reiterate, if you evacuate your home, do not leave your pets behind!!! Pets most likely cannot survive on their own and if by some chance they do, you may not be able to find them when you return.
We don’t know when the “big one” is going to hit and it’s not pleasant to think about but we need to. So, remember the five p’s; Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance. Take action now so you know how to best care for your furry friends when the unexpected occurs.
For help identifying pet-friendly lodging, check out these websites:
Here are two websites you can use as a guideline for making your checklists and being prepared:
Alicia, AA, AAS, LVT