Disaster can strike anywhere and any time. To avoid becoming separated from your pet or from having to leave your pet stranded in the event of a disaster or evacuation, every pet owner should have a pet disaster preparedness plan tailored specifically to the needs of both the family and their pets. The American Red Cross in conjunction with the Humane Society of the United States offers the following advice.
- If you must evacuate, evacuate your pets, too. If it’s unsafe for you, it’s unsafe for them. Leaving pets behind is likely to result in their being lost, injured, or killed. Make arrangements for a safe place to take your pets before a disaster arises. Red Cross shelters cannot accept pets because of health and safety regulations. Contact:
- The local Animal Control Facility to determine if emergency animal shelters will be available during a disaster.
- Family and friends, outside the likely disaster zone, to see if they would be willing to house your pet.
- Hotels and motels, outside the likely disaster zone, to check policies on accepting pets and restrictions on number, size, and species.
- Assemble a portable, water-proof pet supplies disaster kit. Include a 3-day supply of your pet’s normal food, water, and medications. In addition, bowls, bedding, leash/carrier/crate, toys, litterpan and litter, as well as a pet first-aid kit should be included. It is also a good idea to include emergency contact numbers of family, or friends outside the likely disaster zone in case your pet becomes separated from you.
- Make a plan in case you are not at home when the disaster strikes. Talk with neighbors about setting up a mutual assistance group in the event you or they are not at home when a disaster occurs. This person should have a key to your home, be familiar with your pets, know where your pet supplies disaster kit is located, and have a copy of your family disaster plan and emergency contacts. To alert first responders or other emergency personnel that a pet is in the house or on the property, place stickers on doors, barn, pasture fencing or wherever your pet is housed.
- Keep you pet’s vaccines up to date and have a brief medical history including a list of all medications your pet takes in case your pet needs to go into a boarding facility or shelter, or requires medical attention at any time during or immediately following the disaster. Keep this information in a zip-lock bag inside your pet’s disaster kit.
- Make sure your pet has identification. A microchip or collar with name tag and contact phone number, as well as a current photo of you with your pet will help authorities identify your pet and establish you as the owner should it become lost.