If you are reading this post, you probably consider your pet as an important member of your household. The devastating tornado that touched down in parts of North Texas this weekend, is a grim reminder of how important it is to be prepared for any emergency whether it is a tornado,fire, flood, hurricane, or terrorist attack.
I love pets and blogging about them, but my day job is as an Emergency Management Professional with a large telecommunications company. In other words, emergencies/disaster preparation is kind of my thing. Therefore, take it on authority when I say that you should have an emergency plan not only for yourself but for your pets.
Note: Facebook groups have been formed to reunite missing pets from the devastating tornados in Texas. Animal rescue groups are working closely with animal control to make these reunions happen.
Here are 5 ways to prepare for your pet’s safety during a disaster.
During a Disaster
- Bring pets inside immediately. Have plenty of newspapers or waste pads on hand for sanitary reasons.
- If possible, feed the pet canned or moist food so they will need less drinking water.
- Place a notice outside in a visible area, advising what pets are in the house and where they are located. Provide a phone number where you or a contact can be reached as well as the name and number of your vet. Ideally, emergency decals should already be placed on your windows. These are window stickers that you place on the inside of the windows of your home that will tell emergency responders how many dogs or cats you have inside. You can get these decals at pet retailers such as Petco and PetsMart, your veterinarian office or you can order a free Pet Safety Pack from the ASPCA.
- Keep in mind that normally quiet and friendly pets may become and or anxious during and emergency.
Go-Packs – If you travel or camp with your pet, you probably already have one of these but if not…Assemble a portable emergency pack for your pet that should include the following items:
- Bottled water
- Pet food/can opener
- Recent veterinary records – these records should show that your pet is up to date on vaccinations and will also show any medical conditions or special needs that your pet may have.
- Microchip information
- Cat litter/pan
- Food dishes
- First aid kit
- Photographs of you and your pet- this photo should have your information written somewhere on it.
Transport Options – If you must evacuate, you are going to need a way to transport your pet. Make sure you have a secure pet carrier, leash or harness for your pet so that if it panics, it can’t escape. And of course, your pet should be mircrochipped and have identification tags securely attached it its collar or harness.
Shelter Options – Many hotels and public shelters do not allow pets. So, if you must evacuate, have alternative arrangements for your pet in place in advance of any emergency. Develop a buddy system with your neighbors, friends and relatives that will enable care for your pet while you are away.
No Alternative Shelter Options
Leaving your animals behind in a disaster situation can be dangerous for both your pet and emergency responders. However, if you MUST leave your pet at home you should take the following precautions:
NEVER LEAVE YOUR PET CHAINED OUTSIDE!! You can leave them loose inside a confined room (preferably a bathroom) with plenty of food and water.
Remove the toilet tank lid and raise the toilet seat to provide another alternative for water access (this option is probably not optimal for small breeds).
Take care and be safe,