A tornado strikes your town. A fire or flood destroys your home. In light of the 6.0 magnitude earthquake that shook the California Napa Valley, how prepared are you for your family if a disaster strikes? Does your emergency plan include protecting your pets?
The likelihood that you and your pets will survive an emergency situation depends greatly on your preparedness. Whether you decide to stay put in an emergency or evacuate to a safer location, you will need to make plans in advance for your pets. Keep in mind what’s best for you will also apply to your animals.
Identification for your pet is extremely important, especially in the event you and your pet get separated. Keep a collar with identification tags on your dog and/or cat that is up to date and visible at all times. You’ll increase your chance of being reunited with a lost pet by having him or her microchipped. Be sure to keep the microchip registration current and include at least one emergency number of a friend or family member who resides out of your immediate area. Lastly, be sure to have photos of you with your pet to prove ownership or in case you need to make “lost pet” fliers.
Search in advance for a pet-friendly place for you and your pet to stay. Keep in mind, Red Cross disaster shelters will not allow pets to stay unless they are a service animal. Contact hotels and ask if their “no pet” policy can be waived in an emergency situation. Consider family or friends willing to take you and your pets in. Other options include boarding facilities, veterinary hospitals and local shelters.
Assemble a “Pet Survival Kit.” Stock up on the items you may need now so you won’t get caught unprepared. In your kit, you should have one week supply of food and fresh water, as well as bowls and a can opener (if you use canned food). Store your dry food in a water-tight container and rotate it every three months to keep it fresh. Keep an extra supply of medications your pet takes on a regular basis. For cat owners, be sure to have a litter box, litter and litter scoop. Lastly, your kit should have sturdy leashes, harnesses and carriers.
If you evacuate your home, take your pet with you. Pets left behind can easily be injured, lost or killed. Don’t assume you will be gone for a just a few hours from your home.
On the other hand, if you and your family decide to wait out a storm or disaster at home, identify a safe area where you and your pets can stay together. Be sure to close your windows and doors, stay inside and listen to the radio or TV for instructions. Bring your pets indoors immediately and keep them under your direct control.
Lastly, establish a buddy system with a neighbor, friend or family member. In the event you are not at home when disaster strikes, your “buddy” will be able to evacuate and care for your pet in your stead. You should discuss your evacuation plans and show them where you keep your “pet survival kit.” Also, designate where you will meet in an emergency.
Don’t get caught in the “storm” unprepared. Disaster plans aren’t only essential for you but are important for your pet’s survival too. For more information, visit www.ready.gov or call 800-BE-READY.