Your family has an emergency plan in case of emergency evacuation, right? But does it include your pets? Natural disasters displace countless pets in the United States every year. Don’t let the unexpected take you by surprise. Devise a plan in advance that includes your family AND your pets!
Prepare Before a Disaster
- ALWAYS monitor for natural disasters. Keeping an eye on the news and weather to stay informed is the most proactive thing to do for your family. This INCLUDES heat waves and extremely low temperatures!!
- Place a “Rescue Alert” sticker on window. This will notify emergency responders that there are animals in your home that need rescued in the event of a fire or flood. Don’t forget to also denote if you have already evacuated the pet.
- Identify the safest place in your home. Often times a closet, bathroom or basement are the safest places to go during a storm. Make sure you know where to go and that your pet is comfortable in the space.
- Choose a safe haven. If staying in your home is not an option, have a plan for where you and your pet will go. Many disaster relief shelters don’t allow pets for safety and sanitary reasons. Before it becomes necessary, locate a shelter that will accommodate your pets.
As Evacuation Begins
- Have a plan for taking your pet. If it’s not safe for you, it’s not safe for them. Make every effort possible to evacuate safely with your pet.
- Evacuate early if you have pets. Make sure you leave with your pet at the first warnings of evacuation. Animal-friendly shelters fill up quickly once an evacuation becomes mandatory.
- Establish a “buddy” system. If a disaster strikes when you are unable to go home and retrieve your pets, pick a designated neighbor or relative to bring your pet to safety.
Evacuating with Your Pet
- Always wear tags, collar, ID, microchip, etc. Even the most well-behaved dogs can get scared and run away during a natural disaster. Make sure yours is wearing identification just in case.
- Grab your emergency to-go bag. In case of temporary displacement, keep a well-stocked emergency bag in the car or by the door for your dog. This bag should include all the necessities to keep your dog comfortable for at least 7 days: first aid, medications, vet records, food, bottled water, dishes, leashes, towels, blankets, baggies, newspapers (if your dog can’t go outside) crate, flashlight, photos of pet and you in case of separation, and comforting toys.
- Pack local shelter or emergency vet contact information. Having easy access to a veterinarian during tragedy is crucial if you have pets.
Returning Home After a Disaster
- ALWAYS assess the damage before allowing pets to roam. Give the area surrounding your home a thorough inspection to make sure no harmful debris remains before releasing your pet.