Disaster Preparedness for Pets

Disaster Preparedness for Pets

No matter where you live, you need to have an emergency plan for natural or man-made disasters.  Pets are part of our families and leaving them out of your disaster preparedness plan or not having one for them could have deadly consequences.  You must create a disaster preparedness plan for your pets.

The geographical diversity that exists in North America dictates what pet parents could be forced to deal with.  Floods, landslides, wildfires, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tornadoes, and hurricanes require anything from a night away from home to a week or more.

Natural disasters (and some manmade ones) have many similarities in preparation.  Below are steps for you to as you pull together your emergency preparedness plan that includes your furry family members.

Read on to learn what important things to be aware of before the next disaster strikes.

ID & Info

Know and have access to your pets identification and pertinent information.

Just like humans need identification pets need it too. Furry family members need identification should they become separated. Vaccination history and ID is doubly important if pets are placed in a multiple pet sheltering environment during an emergency.

Types of ID

  1. Keep your pets’ identification up-to-date and readable.
  2. They should have an ID tag with at least their name and your phone number. Including additional contact numbers or a special tag for your travel destination is also helpful.
  3. Permanent identification is a basic need for every dog and cat. Collars can come off. There are safety collars (very popular for cats) called “breakaway” collars. This allows for a pet who may be stuck, by the collar, to pull hard enough to free themselves but leaving the collar and ID tag behind. Microchips are an essential back-up option to proper external identification.  Microchips should never replace the first line ID of a collar and tag.

You can read more about the importance of pet identification on my blog post ID, Don’t Let Pet’s Leave Home Without It.

Vaccine records may be needed.  Always keep an up-to-date hard copy or utilize and an App or simply save (and organize) images of the vaccine records on your phone.

Emergency Kit

An Emergency Preparedness Kit is easy to assemble – and essential.

FEMA recommends a Go Kit to have in your home to make quick exits during a natural disaster easier.  Pets should have a go bag as well. Store an emergency kit in an area easy to access, with your human prep kit so you won’t forget it.  emergency supply kit packed and ready.

Get your “Go- Kit” together – its not just for humans.  A Grab And Go kit for your pet is easy and essential for caring for your pet in an emergency.

Download my Pet Emergency Preparedness Checklist so you won’t forget what to include as you prepare your emergency go bag.

Here is the top items on the list:

  • Five days of food & water
  • Medications
  • Bedding
  • Waste disposal bags

Your Pets Emergency Prep Kit should be stocked with all of the items on the checklist.

Evacuation Plan

If it’s not safe for you to stay its not safe for your pets to stay.

Have a plan specific to your geographic area.    Tornados or straight line winds may only knock out power to your home.  Staying home is possible but with minor inconveniences. Other disasters dictate evacuation before or after the event.

Arrange a safe spot for (you and) your pets in case you must evacuate your home. NEVER LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND. They may become trapped or escape and be exposed to numerous life-threatening hazards.

Not all emergency shelters accept pets. It is critical that you investigate where you can go together ahead of time.  The Red Cross Website states that their shelters do not accept pets and to “please make arrangements for your pets before coming to the shelter”.  You can call your local Red Cross office to inquire if a community partner has or will open a nearby pet shelter.

Identify hotels outside of your immediate area that accept pets. Ask friends or family members outside your immediate area if they would be willing to take in your pet.

The Buddy Plan

If you are not home when the call for evacuation comes, utilize the “Buddy Plan”. This step will take time and thought. When choosing a temporary caregiver, consider someone who lives close to your home that you can help each other with animal evacuation. Make sure your “buddy” has written permission to care for your animals and access to your pet emergency kit and travel gear.

Be sure to discuss your expectations at length with a permanent caregiver, so he or she understands the responsibility of caring for your pet.

Veterinary Care

Keep an up-to-date list of emergency clinics outside of your immediate area.  Research emergency /24-hour clinics in that location as well as general practice for the non-emergency situations.  Address phone number directions, nearby hotels

Geographic Considerations

Make sure you take into account your specific geographic location and the natural disaster that are common to your home town. Wildfires, tornados, hurricanes all have evacuation potential but clearly unique considerations for each.  Plan accordingly.

Special Considerations for Small Animals

Small animals, such as rabbits, rodents, ferrets, hedgehogs, and guinea pigs have specific considerations dictated by their species.  They should be transported in secure carriers with bedding materials, food and food bowls. Birds, reptiles, and fish have specific needs as well.  Ensure you have appropriate travel cages, including environmental controls for those who need unique humidity or heating conditions.

Each type of disaster requires different measures to keep you and your pets safe.  The best thing you can do for yourself and your pets is to be prepared.  Don’t forget to download  my free checklist to help you create your emergency preparedness plan for your pets.

Happy Pet Parenting,

Leslie the Pet Nurse

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *