Be Prepared to Keep Pets Safe
Catastrophes come in many forms: fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, violent storms and even terrorism. In the event of extreme weather or a disaster, would you know what to do to protect your pet?
Unfortunately, most pet owners are unsure of what action they would take if ever faced with such a situation. The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA) 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey reports that many pet owners have thought about a disaster situation, but are not sure what they would do to care for their pet.
The best thing a responsible pet owner can do is to be prepared ahead of time.
1. Prepare a "Grab & Go" Pet Disaster Travel Kit
The American Red Cross, The Humane Society of the United States, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and FEMA (Department of Homeland Security) all recommend having a disaster travel kit readily available for your pet.
Keep a small duffle bag or something as simple as a recycled shopping bag filled with the items listed below in a readily-accessible area that you can quickly grab when evacuation is necessary.
Your disaster travel kit should contain essential pet supplies for at least five days.
- A small bag of food
- Portable feeding bowls
- A bottle of water
- Collar with ID tags, leash, rope and/or harness
- Pet medications
- A pet toy
- Garbage bags or doggie waste bags, small litter box, scoop and litter
- Current photos of your pets
- List of important phone numbers
2. Pet Kennels and Bedding
If you have the time to locate your pet's bed or a blanket before evacuating your home, bring them. These items can help reduce your pet's stress and to keep him as comfortable as possible.
In addition, a pet carrier and/or portable kennel is also useful if you have to take shelter at a friend's home or at a public shelter that allows pets. A carrier or kennel will help shield your pet from strange noise, curious onlookers and other wandering pets. It will also prevent your pet from becoming skittish and fleeing, potentially separating you in the chaos.
Be sure to label your carrier or kennel with your pet's name, your phone number and your veterinarian's phone number.
3. Locate a Shelter That Accepts Pets
Should you have to evacuate to a shelter, it is important to keep in mind that the American Red Cross and other shelters may not accept pets due to state health and safety regulations.
Researching shelters and boarding facilities for your pet now can help you avoid the difficulties of locating a place for your pet to stay during a disaster.
Keep a list of local shelters in your pet's grab & go travel kit for easy access.
4. Find a Pet-Friendly Hotel
Make inquiries ahead of time. Contact hotels outside of your immediate area and ask if they have pet-friendly policies and/or restrictions.
You might even ask if “no pet” policies can be waived in case of an emergency. Make sure to keep a list with phone numbers of pet-friendly places in your pet's grab & go travel kit.
5. Reach Out to Friends
Don't wait until disaster approaches; check to see if friends or relatives outside of your disaster zone would be willing to shelter your pet in the case of an emergency.
Preparing for an emergency now can benefit your family later, time is of essence.