Hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, wildfires, hazardous material spills, and other disasters can strike anytime, anywhere. In the event of a disaster, proper preparation will help ensure the safety of your family and pets.
Disasters can cause a lot of stress and anxiety, being prepared can help lessen the stress and help you remain calm so you can take care of your family and pets. When preparing disaster kits for your family, make sure to prepare one for your pets too.
Your pet kit should include:
- Recent photographs of your pet
- Health and all necessary vaccination records
- Drinking water in gallon-sized plastic containers
- Pet food and dishes
- Leash, as appropriate
- Carrier or crate; a plastic or non-glass habitat should be used for transport of companion animals such as hamsters and reptiles
- List of contact numbers such as veterinarian, nearby shelter and emergency pet hospitals
Aside from the kit it is always best to be prepared at home and in your daily lives.
- Always make sure your pet wears an ID tag, as appropriate, and has your contact information on the carrier. If your pet inadvertently gets lost, the contact information is her ticket home.
- Have at least a week's supply of food and water on hand at all times for your pets. Store the dry food in air-tight/waterproof containers.
- If your pet is on long-term medication, keep a back up supply on hand.
- Have a secure carrier. Train your pet to be comfortable using the carrier.
- Start a buddy system with someone in your neighborhood, so that they will check on your pet during a disaster in case you aren't home. Agree to do the same for them. Exchange information on veterinarians and have a permission slip put in your file at the vet, authorizing your friend to get necessary emergency treatment for your pet should you not be available.
- Know where the animal shelters are in your area. You may need to visit them after a disaster to look for a missing pet.
- Since pets are not permitted in Red Cross shelters, look for shelters ahead of time to make sure your pet has a place to stay.
- Research hotels and motels outside your immediate area to check policies on accepting pets. Ask about any restrictions on number, size, and species. Ask if "no pet" policies would be waived in an emergency. Make a list of pet-friendly places and keep it handy.
- Check with friends and relatives outside your immediate area. Ask if they would be able to shelter you and your animals or just your animals, if necessary.
- Prepare a list of contact numbers including your vet and nearby shelter.
If You Evacuate
Take your pets!
The one most important thing you can do to protect your pet is to take her with you when you evacuate. If you must leave your pet, then leave her in a room without windows such as a bathroom or laundry room. Make sure to provide plenty of food and water. Leave a note outside the door and outside your home in a visible spot advising the location, type of pet and your contact numbers as well as the number to your vet.
If you leave, even if you think you may be gone only for a few hours, take your pets. Once you leave, you have no way of knowing how long you'll be kept out of the area and you may not be able to go back for your pets.
If you are evacuating, leave early, don't wait for a mandatory evacuation order. An unnecessary trip is far better than waiting too long to leave safely with your pets. If you wait to be evacuated by emergency officials, you may be told to leave your pets behind.
If your pet is not allowed at the temporary shelter, contact friends, family, veterinarians or boarding kennels to arrange for care. Make sure to supply medical and feeding information, food, and medicine with your pet.
If you cannot return to your home right away, you may need to board your pet. Most boarding kennels, veterinarians and animal shelters will need your pet's medical records to make sure all vaccinations are current.
If You Don't Evacuate
If your family and pets must wait out a storm or other disaster at home, identify a safe area in your home where you can all stay together.
- Bring pets into the house and confine them so you can leave with them quickly if necessary.
- Make sure each pet carrier has up to date identification and contact information.
- Keep dogs on leashes or in carriers and make sure they are wearing identification.
- Have any medications, supply of pet food and water along with your other emergency supplies.
- Be sure to comfort your pet, she is scared too, and having you near to give her reassurance will help.
- Continue to feed your pet at her regular scheduled time and provide her with water at all times.