With the latest hurricane on the way, it’s time to revisit your pet disaster plan. You do have one, right? After Katrina and Harvey, everyone should understand the importance of disaster preparation.
June is National Pet Preparedness Month, and in the fall, September is Disaster Preparation Month. Hurricane Florence drives home the importance of having a disaster plan not only for yourself when Mother Nature throws a tantrum, but also to keep your pets safe. Whether you must deal with tornadoes, floods, landslides, typhoons, wildfires or other emergencies, there’s a rule that we must always PLAN FOR THE WORST.
And then pray it doesn’t happen.
Disaster Preparation: Are You Disaster Ready?
A Pet360.com survey revealed 13% of pet owners had been through a disaster or evacuation with pets, and of those, 12% had been separated from their fur-kids. I don’t know about you, but I’d go CRAZY if I was separated from Shadow-Pup or Karma-Kat at such a time! Other findings:
- 46% do not have an emergency plan in place for their pets.
- Of those who do have a plan, only 40% practice it with their pets.
- Less than 35% have an emergency kit for their pets.
- 63% do not have Pet Alert stickers in their windows.
TOP TIPS FOR PET DISASTER PREPARATION PLANS
Watch news and weather reports. When weather turns ify, bring all pets into the house so that you won’t have to search for them. 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.
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, the cat gets stuffed into cat carriers and placed inside the pantry situated under the stairs. It’s big enough that the humans and Bravo can fit inside, too.
Teach pets NOW to go to their “safe room” by practicing and rewarding with tasty treats, favorite games or anything that really floats their boat. Cats often hide during strange weather so make sure you have a way to find them.
DISASTER PREPARATION PLANS FOR EVACUATION!
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. In the wake of the Katrina deluge, efforts are underway to make some changes that accommodate furry family members. Until/unless those changes come about, if you’ve got to evacuate, find a hotel, friend, or other accommodations in advance that will let you bring your dogs and cats. Hotels that ordinarily prohibit pets may make exceptions during times of emergency evacuations so always ask.
6 Tips for Pet Disaster Preparation
- 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.
- Have a pet evacuation emergency kit handy that contains pet food, medications, cat litter, vaccination/health certificates and veterinary contact information. You may need proof of vaccination to be admitted to shelters. Be sure your kit 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 such as Comfort Zone/DAP for dogs or Feliway for cats 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.
DISASTER PREPARATION ORGANIZATIONS FOR PETS
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides information and relief for human victims of disaster, and also offers more information about pets here.
- The ASPCA also offers great disaster preparation information for owners.
Be ready for Mother Nature’s “what if” surprises now and prepare for the worst. I pray you’ll never need this information.
Have you ever gone through a disaster or evacuation with your pets? What do you wish you’d known or would do differently? Please share!
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