Between hurricanes on the East Coast and New Orleans and wildfires in the West, hundreds of thousands of people — and countless dogs, cats and other animals — have been displaced from their homes in the United States in just the last decade or so. Even a severe thunderstorm can render you without power for a while and cause injuries and deaths. Everyone should have an emergency plan that includes your pet! Be as prepared as possible with a plan and a disaster kit. This guide will help you out.
First, consider what kind of disasters might occur in your area and strategize to protect your animal and human family members. Research how best to handle these specific hazards — different protocols exist for hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes and tsunamis.
However, some preparedness advise is universal:
Your Emergency Plan Basics:
- Your pets should always wear a collar with identification information.
- All pets must have microchips.
- Each pet should have a carrier that she is accustomed to. Label the carrier with your pet’s name and your contact information.
- You should know how to catch your pet — especially if they don’t come when called.
- Having a leash or carrier (or both) near the exit of your home will ensure an easy and fast departure.
- Make sure you have a seatbelt, carrier, or harness to secure your pet in the car.
- If you don’t have a car, the government may have transportation for disasters. Alternatively, a friend or family member may be able to help you.
Sheltering at home
If an interior room in your home is a safe place to stay, check for plants or toxic chemicals. Also, block areas where cats or small dogs might hide.
Know in advance where your pet may be able to find shelter outside the home in case of evacuation. Find out if your local emergency organization has shelters where pets are welcome. If none are available you can contact local boarding establishments, shelters, and veterinary hospitals. Check with family or friends out of the danger zone. There are also many pet-friendly hotels:
- bringfido.com or call 877-411-FIDO
- dogfriendly.com or call 888-281-5170
- doginmysuitcase.com or call 8880254-0637
- pet-friendly-hotels.net or call 866-966-3046
- pets-allowed-hotels.com or call 800-250-1625
Evacuation Supplies Checklist:
- Food, water, bowls, and a can opener if applicable.
- Waste items: cat litter, litter box, and/or dog poop bags.
- Be prepared for any accidents with a cleaning product, paper towels, and a bag.
- Don’t forget medications (bring refills) and motivating treats.
- Medical records: rabies shot certificate, vaccination records, microchip number, prescriptions, cat FeLV/FIV records (or test results), and medical history.
- Gear: leash or harness, carrier or cage.
- Toys and bed.
- Photo of pet, description, your phone numbers, microchip number, your contact information. A pre-made missing pet handout will be very helpful if you become separated.
- Boarding instructions including medical info, behavior issues, feeding times, and allergies.-Be sure that all documents, food, and medications are in waterproof containers.
- Here’s a checklist from the CDC that will also help you remember everything..
These helpful resources can assist you in creating your disaster plan and handling the aftermath.
- Pets and Disasters from the CDC
- Animal Emergency and Disaster Planning Information from USDA
- Pet Safety from the American Red Cross
- Caring for Animals from Ready.gov
- Make a Disaster Plan for Your Pets from the Humane Society
- Pets and Disasters from the AVMA
- Disaster Preparedness from the ASPCA
- Animals and Disasters: How Katrina Changed Their World
- Disaster Declarations from FEMA
- Disaster Statistics from the Natural Hazards Center
- Helping Pets in Danger After Disasters
- Finding a Lost Pet from Adopt and Shop
- Pets Before and After a Disaster Strikes
- Using Social Media to Recover Lost Pets from Vetstreet
- Finding Pets After a Tornado
If you and your pet become separated, contact animal control, the microchip company, and post on social media
Create your plan and disaster kit as soon as you can. Being prepared is the best insurance for a positive outcome.