Are you prepared for natural disasters? What about your pets? Living in Tornado Alley here in North Texas, it’s not unusual to suffer property damage from winds, floods, hail and twisters. Wildfires cause just as much pain and suffering, whether caused by an errant thunderbolt or the carelessness of a human. Across the country, these same issues plus mud slides, earthquakes, hurricanes and more can spell heartache.
There are many service organizations ready and willing to step in and help with disaster strikes. Since our pets ARE family members, those who embrace pets’ needs during these times of strife offer invaluable service not only to the animals, but relieve the stress of the people who love them. Very often, the first-line help comes from shelter programs located in or near the disaster site that offer help to displaced pets. Enter the Disaster Relief Network.
Last May, Hill’s Pet Nutrition announced the formation of Disaster Relief Network through the Hill’s Food, Shelter & Love TM program. Hill’s already had a strong historical commitment to help shelter programs, and since 2002 has donated over $240 million worth of Science Diet® brand foods to nearly 1,000 animal shelters nationwide. After receiving requested feedback from participating shelters, improvements were made to the program so Science Diet® pet food is now available to any eligible US shelter at a significant discount, and our program remains open 365 days a year.
The Disaster Relief Network allows Hill’s to quickly distribute emergency pet food resources to participating shelters across the country. This formalized U.S.-wide network of shelters coordinates emergency pet food deliveries and is the first network of its kind. Food can be shipped within hours of a disaster. Learn more about the program here.
Disaster Prep for Pets
When Mother Nature throws a tantrum, you have no time to waste. Keeping your human and furry family safe can prove daunting unless you’ve made advanced preparations.
- Watch weather reports. When weather turns ify, bring all pets into the house so that you won’t have to search for them. Know your pets’ favorite hangouts (and hiding spots) so you can find them quickly. Make sure all dogs and cats are wearing collars and up-to-date identification. If you have nothing else handy, use a felt-tip marker and write your phone number and name on the pet’s tummy or inside the ears.
- Designate a “safe room” in the house to confine pets until the all clear. Many homes in North Texas don’t have basements or storm cellars. An internal room without windows, often a bathroom without windows, can be a good option. At my house, Seren gets stuffed into her cat carrier and placed inside the pantry situated under the stairs. It’s big enough that the humans and Magical Dawg can fit inside, too.
- If you must evacuate, take your pets along. It may be days before authorities allow you to return home.
- Red Cross shelters currently prohibit pets, except for certified service animals because often local and state health and safety regulations do not permit pets in disaster shelters. Find a hotel, friend, or other accommodations in advance that will let you bring your dogs and cats. Do it NOW, so you know who to call and won’t have to search out options during disaster.
- Attach the phone number and address of your temporary shelter, if you know it, to the pet’s collar tags. You can buy temporary tags or put adhesive tape on the back of your pet’s ID tag, adding information with an indelible pen. Write directly on a flat nylon collar or halter to make it easy for a stranger to read the information. Tape this same info onto pet carriers.
- Use a RESCUE STICKER ALERT visible to rescue workers to let folks know you have pets inside your home. Make sure it includes the types and number of pets, and your cell number as well as your veterinarian’s phone number. If you leave with your pets, be sure to write “EVACUATED” across the stickers so rescue workers don’t waste time looking for them.
- In addition to providing for human family members, have a “pet kit” ready to take along that contains a three-day supply of all the pet essentials. If easily packed, take an extra towel or blanket for each pet. Don’t forget sturdy leashes, harnesses, carriers or X-pens for safe confinement.
- Most facilities will require your cats and dogs to be under your control, and may also require proof of current vaccination. Include a favorite comfort toy or treat, the pet’s food and can opener if needed, and don’t forget water—one quart per cat-size pet per day (more for big dogs) is a good rule of paw. One of the pheromone spray products for pets can help relieve the stress of being in a strange environment.
- Have plenty of plastic bags and newspapers as well as containers and cleaning supplies to help deal with pet waste. Puppy training pads or Depends undergarments work well.
Prepare for the unthinkable, too. Include current photos of your pets in case they get lost, and bring a first-aid kit to care for possible injuries. Include disposable latex gloves, sterile dressings, antibiotic towelettes and ointment, eyewash, thermometer, and any prescription medications your pets need. You can find more specifics in The First-Aid Companion For Dogs & Cats.
- Your evacuation kit should also include a cell phone, flashlight, extra batteries, battery powered radio, map of area, whistle/air horn to signal for help, and matches in a waterproof container. Keep a list of emergency numbers with your phone, including a pet emergency clinic number and shelters that may temporarily house animals. Keep your car tank filled with at least half a tank at all times.
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides information and relief for human victims of disaster, and also offers more information about pets. Petfinder.com also offers great disaster preparation information for owners.
Be ready for Mother Nature’s “what if” surprises now and prepare for the worst. Then pray that you and your pets will never need this information.
Find out more about Hill’s Food, Shelter & Love TM Disaster Relief Network at Hill’s website. To request assistance during an emergency, shelters can contact Hill’s at DisasterRelief@hillspet.com. And check out this very kewl “gotcha story” video.
Do you have a disaster story? How did you manage with your pets? What would you do differently today as a result? Do tell!
This post is sponsored by Hill’s. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Hill’s Food, Shelter & Love Disaster Relief Network, but I only share information I feel is relevant to my readers. Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. is not responsible for the content of this article.
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