The tornados in the mid-west and earthquakes in Japan remind us that while disasters differ by region, they occur with little warning. When it comes to our pets, advance planning can make a life or death difference for them.
The FEMA website offers clear advice concerning pets: “If you evacuate your home, do not leave your pets behind!” What might seem like a short-term evacuation can be extended for prolonged periods, and your pet’s life might depend on your ability to take it with you.
You’ll want to plan where you will go in advance. Perhaps a friend or relative will welcome you and your pets, or there are pet-friendly hotels or boarding facilities outside the area. When evacuation is recommended, people with pets should not wait until the last moment.
At the very first sign of a potential disaster, bring your pets indoors. This is important because animals instinctively hide when things go wrong; and you want to be able to find your pets quickly. Even a calm pet might panic and try to run away, so be sure you have a secure pet carrier, leash or harness for each of your pets.
Having identification on your animals will dramatically increase the likelihood of you and your pets being reunited should you become separated. A tag on a collar is good, but a microchip is the most reliable identification for your pet. Be sure your current phone number is on the ID or on file with the microchip company. Take a photo of each of your pets with your cell phone camera as proof of ownership.
Pack extra pet care items in an easy-to-grab kit, including: pet food and bottles of water, medications, cat litter/pan, food/water dishes, blankets, toys, paper towels and plastic bags for clean-up, and vaccination records in a waterproof zip-lock bag.
Enlist a willing and trusted neighbor or friend to assist your pets in case you are not home when disaster strikes. This person should be familiar with your animals and have a key to your home.
Place stickers on the doors to your home to notify rescue personnel that animals are present and where they can find your evacuation kit. Keep a current list of your pets and where they most often hide, along with your contact information, on top of the evacuation kit to assist rescuers.
Having a plan to safely evacuate your family, including your pets, will give you peace of mind and help ensure that everyone will be safe no matter what happens.