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Emergency Preparedness and Your Pets

With the recent disaster in Japan, I thought it was a good time to talk about emergency preparedness and your pets. Sure, you need to be prepared for your family, but you need to consider your pets as well. The Red Cross shelters do not allow pets, so you will need to have a plan in place that will work for your family, including your pets.

Prepare for an Emergency With Your Pets in Mind

When going through ordinary, everyday life – working, taking care of kids, shopping, and chores – it’s easy to overlook the things we should do to ensure the safety and well-being of our pets in case of emergencies. Here are a few tips to help you be prepared in case of unexpected events or natural disasters.

Keep an Emergency Kit for Yourself as Well as Your Pet

Living in earthquake-prone California, I’m sure you’ve all heard about keeping an emergency kit handy in case of disaster.These kits will typically contain water, food, flashlights, candles, matches, duct tape, a first aid kit, a radio, rope, medications, etc. It’s also a good idea to have one prepared for your pet(s).

You can include a week’s supply of water and food, dishes, leashes and harnesses, towels, medications, a carrier, a pet first aid kit, paper towels, a litter pan, litter, a pillow case, and a blanket. You should keep this kit in an easily accessible location.

You can also include important information, such as the name, location, and phone number of your veterinarian, medical records, including vaccination information. Be sure to rotate out food, water, and medications every few months to keep the supply fresh.

Be sure you have an emergency sticker

Make sure you have an “In case of emergency…” sticker or decal prominently placed on your house, usually on a window at the front entrance of the house. This will aid any rescue workers who might check your home during fires or other disasters.

The sticker should include the following:

  • The number and types of animals in the home
  • Your contact information
  • Your vet’s name and number

If you have left the home with your pets, be sure to write “EVACUATED” across the front of the sticker.

Bring Pets Indoors During Emergencies

If you notice that a severe storm, hurricane, or tornado is approaching, bring all pets indoors. You don’t want them wandering away just as disaster is about to strike.  Coordinate with a trusted neighbor, relative, or friend.

In case you aren’t able to be at home, give a copy of your house key to a trusted neighbor, relative, or friend so they can take care of your pets or even evacuate them for you in case of an emergency. If they have pets, you can do the same for them.

Check other locations to use as safe havens

Find the places near your home where you would be able to take your pet in case you need to evacuate your home. Most emergency evacuation sites will not allow pets. Check local hotels/motels to see if they would accept pets in case of emergencies.

Check veterinary hospitals, boarding facilities, and shelters to see if they would be able to temporarily shelter you animal. It’s always best to know ahead of time where you can go instead of scrambling during a time of stress and uncertainty.

Be sure your pet has a current ID

Make sure your pet has tags that are up-to-date with information such as your phone number and address. The best ID for your pet is a microchip that can be imbedded into the back of their neck. Most shelters can scan for the chip and obtain identification information. Also have on hand a current photo of your pet(s).

Never leave your pet in your home

It’s very dangerous and potentially deadly to leave your pet alone in the home when emergencies strike. But if you absolutely have no choice, be sure they are confined inside. Never leave a dog chained outside. Make sure your pets have food and water.

Display a notice prominently that states that there are animals in your home, your name and number, where you can be located, as well as the name and number of your vet. It’s always difficult to imagine the very worst scenarios when every day life seems calm and predictable, but emergencies do happen, so do your best to be prepared for you and your pets.

They depend on you.

Download an Emergency Preparedness for Your Pets Guide now.


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