Different disasters require different responses. But whether the disaster is a hurricane or a hazardous spill, you may have to evacuate your home. Leaving pets behind, even if you try to create a safe place for them, is likely to result in their loss, injury or death. So prepare now for the day when you and your pets may have to leave your home.
Determine a Safe Place to Take Your Pets
- Most Red Cross disaster shelters cannot accept pets because of state health and safety regulations and other considerations. Service animals that assist people with disabilities are the only animals allowed in Red Cross shelters. It may be difficult, if not impossible, to find shelter for your animals in the midst of a disaster. So, plan ahead!
- Learn as much as possible about hurricanes, tornadoes and floods. Familiarize yourself with your area FEMA staff. They can provide you with a wealth of information concerning the area you reside in and what to expect in various types of disasters and the area’s evacuation plan.
- Locate the area evacuation shelters and pet-friendly hotels in and around your state. A great source of information on this is the Web site http://www.petswelcome.com. Call ahead and find out availability and make a reservation if needed.
- Also consider friends, relatives, your veterinarian or professional pet sitter, etc. outside of the evacuation area that can care for your pets in the case of an emergency. Make a list with contact information to have handy should the need arise.
- Most shelters operate on a first-come, first-served basis. Be one of the first to arrive and give the pets plenty of time to settle in while you are there with them. Remember, this is a new experience for them in a strange place with strange people and it may take a while until they become familiar with the smells, sights and sounds of their temporary home. Keep pets on leashes at all times.
Assemble a Portable Pet Disaster Supplies Kit
Whether you are away from home for a day or a week, you’ll
need essential supplies. Keep items in an accessible place and store them in sturdy containers that can be carried easily. The following list contains some great suggestions:
• Crates. Each pet should have its own kennel/crate with a photo on the crate. On the bottom or back of the photo, write the pet’s name, sex, and either your name and/or phone number(s). The pet carrier/crate should be large enough for the pet to stand up and turn around in. If possible, include the pets’ beds and toys.
• Bowls. Each pet should have its own food/water dishes. Have their names written on the bottom of each bowl.
• Information. Have a file on each pet containing health history and vaccination dates. Should you be required to take the pet to a shelter or animal-friendly hotel with you, this information will be required. Also include information on feeding schedule. Store these materials in a waterproof container.
• Containment. Have a leash and collar with all pertinent information on the tags readily available. This will include pet’s name, rabies tag and contact phone number.
• Food and Meds. Have an ample supply of food and medication for the pet with specific feeding and medication instructions written out in clear handwriting. If the pet tends to be anxiety ridden during storms or car travel, ask your veterinarian for a prescription of sedatives to carry in the pet’s personal belongings bag.
• Be Prepared for Accidents. Pack your car with a pet first aid kit, flashlights, batteries, trash bags, baby wipes, newspapers and paper towels in case the pets either get sick or go potty while in their crate.
• Pack Enough. Remember that you cannot predict Mother Nature. You may be evacuated much longer than you had originally thought. Pack enough supplies for an extended stay. If you don’t need them, great! You can keep them on hand in case of another emergency situation.
Article by Beth Schultz