Whether hurricanes, forest fires, snowstorms, tornadoes or flash floods, no place seems to be safe from a weather catastrophe – therefore every pet owner should have an emergency plan for his fur friends.
Unfortunately, many people in a hurry to flee have to leave pets behind. For those taking their pets with them, it can be difficult to arrange last minute trips or find shelters that allow pets.
In addition, last-minute care, meals and meals can be greatly overpriced.
It’s important to have a contingency plan in place in the event of a disaster – and it should include a pet emergency kit.
Emergency preparedness for pets in 3 steps
It is a good idea to prepare to protect yourself, your family, and your pets at the start of the emergency season in your area. Here is a disaster risk reduction checklist for your pets.
1. Assemble a pet emergency kit
When collecting supplies for an emergency kit for yourself and your household, don’t forget to put together an emergency kit for your four-legged friends as well. Make sure you have this kit handy whether you think you are about to evacuate your home – weather conditions can change quickly and unexpectedly.
Your pet emergency kit should contain the following, according to PetsWelcome.com:
- A collar and ID tag with name and contact information (if the animal does not wear one regularly).
- The phone number and address of your veterinarian and an emergency veterinary clinic in the area where you are staying.
- Updated medical records and tags in a waterproof bag or sleeve.
- Medication (your vet may be able to provide you with extra care if your pet depends on the medication to survive) and a pet first aid kit – here is a checklist of what should be included.
- Recent photos of your pet to help identify if they get separated.
- A few copies of your pet’s eating habits, remarkable behavior, medication schedule, and medical condition, if any, in case the pet suddenly needs to be brought on board or placed in foster care.
- A small toy, pillow, blanket, or bed that will keep your pet comfortable.
- Weather-related accessories that keep your pet safe and calm (thundershirt, ankle boots, paw balm, nutritional supplements, swimming aid).
- Food and water bowls as well as additional food and treats. (And don’t forget a manual can opener if necessary.)
- Plastic trash bags, paper towels, light cat litter and a travel-size litter box. (And a small flashlight for night trips to the toilet.)
- Dry shampoo, wipes, a towel and whatever else you need for a quick clean.
- A leash, a harness and a travel box that is comfortable for a long time.
After you’ve packed your kit – including first aid supplies – check it every few months to refresh items that have expired or need replacing.
2. Get ready before disaster strikes
Before bad seasonal weather or disaster is expected in your area, there are a few things you should do to make sure your pet is safe and well looked after.
The following must now be done before a natural disaster occurs:
- If your pets are overdue for a vaccination, take them to the vet now so you don’t have to worry about making an appointment while a storm is approaching. An unvaccinated pet may not be admitted to animal shelters, hotels, guest houses or foster families.
- Contact hotels, motels, and emergency shelters on your planned evacuation routes to ensure pets are accepted. (Indicate that you are looking for information about emergency evacuation situations and they may be able to explain their procedures and emergency allowances.) Make a list of the places that will do this.
- Make a list of veterinarians or boarding facilities along your planned evacuation routes in case you have to surrender your pets while you seek shelter with your family.
- If your evacuation plan includes staying with family or friends in another area, contact them to make sure your pets are okay too.
3. Take care of your pets in an emergency (or find someone who can)
When you have to leave your home, don’t leave your pets behind.
Pets left in emergency situations are often sent to animal shelters or shelters in a different area – or they could end up lost or dead.
Weather-related disasters aren’t the only emergencies. In addition to preparing your emergency kit, ask a family member or friend to take care of your pets if you get sick.
When evacuating, don’t leave your pet locked up in your home with extra bowls of food and water. There is no guarantee how long you will be away, how much the weather will affect your home, or how your pet will react to being left alone under stress for so long.
Do not leave your pet tied to a fence, light pole, telephone pole, or let your pet roam free. Do not leave pets locked in a car, boat, or otherwise stranded. This is considered animal cruelty and you can be fined or worse.
If you get separated from your pet for any reason, first contact your local animal welfare agency, then check Find My Lost Pet for a list of websites that have information about animals rescued during a natural disaster.
Having a pet is a huge responsibility, and part of that responsibility is keeping your pet friend safe in an emergency.
Remember, preparation is key to protecting yourself and your loved ones (people and animals).
Grace Schweizer is Social Media Manager at The Penny Hoarder.