When a disaster strikes we are usually unprepared. The good news is that it only takes a little forethought and preparation to preserve the safety or life of our beloved pets. In the past 10 years, an estimated 20 million Americans have been affected by natural disasters such as flooding, tornados, hurricanes, and severe lightning storms.
Here are a few of the most basic ways to prepare, now, before a disaster strikes:
1) Take a clear photo of your dog so that he may be identified in the event he becomes separated from you.
2) Get a secure collar with appropriate I.D. tag containing at least one phone number. Better yet, microchip your dog. Most vets and shelters scan incoming lost pets for a chip.
3) Prepare an emergency “Go Kit” for you and your pet. It’s an inexpensive way to have a piece of mind. Always know where it is. RedRover.org recommends the following items be packed for each animal in your home:
- One-week supply of food. Store it in a water-tight container and rotate it every three months to keep it fresh. If you use canned food, include a spare can opener.
- One-week supply of fresh water. If officials declare your household water unfit to drink, it’s also unsafe for your pets. Follow American Red Cross guidelines for storing emergency water for your family and your pets.
- Medication. If your animal takes medication, a replacement supply may not be easily available following a disaster.
- Copies of vaccination records
- Photographs of you with your pets to prove ownership
- Photographs of your pets in case you need to make “lost pet” fliers
- Pet first aid kit
- Temporary ID tags. If you’ve evacuated, use this to record your temporary contact informationand/or the phone number of an unaffected friend or relative.
- Carrier or leash for each animal. Caregivers of multiple cats or other small animals can use an EvacSak, which is easy to store and use for transport.
4) Have a plan and share it with family. If a disaster should force you from your home, determine a safe place to stay, and do it ahead of time. Find out where a local emergency pet sheltering facility is located. During times of disaster, temporary shelters are often facilitated by the ASPCA, IFAW, HSUS, etc.
5) Be sure your smartphone directory has phone numbers for emergency contacts and 24 hour veterinarians.
Remember, your own safety comes first. Be wary before, during, and after a disaster strikes, and never leave your household pet alone, tied up, or encumbered to fend for themselves.
- American Red Cross: Pets Disaster Preparedness
- RedRover.org: Disaster Preparedness Checklist
- ASPCA: Disaster Preparedness in English and Spanish
- American Veterninary Medical Association: First Aid Supplies