Floods. Earthquakes. Fires. Tornadoes. In recent months, these disasters have struck in various parts of the United States. We all think it will never happen to us, but it seems no one is immune. What would you do if you were struck by a house fire or natural disaster? Do you have a plan? Does that plan include your pets?
Be prepared! Make an evacuation plan
The time to make a plan is before disaster strikes. Take a few moments to develop a strategy, and include a plan to care for your pets if you are displaced from your home. In the event of an evacuation, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND. If you need to leave your home, so do your pets!
Make your pets easily identifiable
Pets can act very strangely when they are afraid. Inclement weather may cause your dog to race out the door. Your cat may hide. Make sure rescue workers can return your pets to you. Keep collars with your name and phone number on your pets.
Consider microchipping your pets to provide them with permanent identification in case they slip out of their collars. Keep your contact information up-to-date with the microchip company. In addition, keep a current photo handy of you with your pets. This photo may help in case you need to identify a lost pet.
Determine emergency pet lodging options
Did you know that most Red Cross shelters do not accept pets because of safety concerns? Now is the time to figure out where you can go with your pets or where you can board them during an emergency. Develop a list of names and phone numbers for pet-friendly hotels along your potential escape route. Contact friends and family members to see if they would be willing to take your pets in the event of an evacuation.
Evacuating your reptiles or horses may be a little more difficult than exiting the house with your dog. For tips on evacuating birds, reptiles, small mammals and horses, refer to the guide from the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).
Keep your pets up-to-date on vaccinations
Because your pets may need to board at an unfamiliar facility, you may need to provide proof of vaccination for Rabies, Distemper, and Bordetella (kennel cough). Keep your pets up-to-date on these vaccines (if applicable), and keep copies of your vaccination certificates in a waterproof container that you can take with you.
Have an evacuation bag ready to go
Before disaster strikes, assemble an evacuation bag that you can grab if you have to exit quickly. A good pet evacuation bag will include:
- copies of vaccination certificates and updated medical records
- names and phone numbers of pet-friendly hotels, your regular veterinarian, and an emergency animal hospital
- medications that your pets are taking (be sure to rotate the medicines every month so that they stay fresh)
- pet first aid kit
- food and water
- litter box/litter/scoop
- blanket (for bedding)
The ASPCA lists some additional items to include in your evacuation bag. Create a bag that best suits you and your pets. Make the bag now, before you need it. Keep the bag near an exit so you can grab it as you head out the door. In addition, follow the CARE for Paws Facebook page for daily tips on how to keep your pets safe!
Flood. Earthquake. Fire. Tornado. You can hope that it will never happen to you, but with a disaster plan in place, you will be ready if ever it does.
Joanne Clark is the Communication Coordinator at Countrycare Animal Complex in Green Bay, WI. She loves all dogs, but her favorite breed is Rescued!