TO-DO LIST FOR PROTECTING YOUR PETS IN A DISASTERStart getting ready nowID your pet:
Make sure that your cat
is wearing a collar and identification that is up to date and visible at all times. You’ll increase your chances of being reunited with a lost pet by having him or her micro-chipped
.Put your cell phone number on your pet’s tag. Have an extra tag on hand with the phone number of a friend or relative outside your immediate area—in case you have had to evacuate.
Put together your disaster kit:
Every member of your family should know what he or she needs to take when you evacuate. You’ll also need supplies for your pet. Stock up on non-perishables well ahead of time, and have everything ready to go at a moment’s notice. Keep everything accessible and stored in sturdy containers (duffel bags, covered trash containers, etc.) that can be carried easily. Any dry pet food should be stored in air-tight containers and refreshed every 6 months.A basic disaster kit
- Food and water for at least five days for each pet, bowls and a manual can opener if you are packing canned pet food. People need at least one gallon of water per person per day. While your pet may not need that much, keep an extra gallon on hand if your pet has been exposed to chemicals or flood waters and needs to be rinsed.
- Medications and medical records stored in a waterproof container and a first aid kit. A pet first aid book is also a good idea.
- Cat litter box, litter, litter scoop, garbage bags to collect all pets’ waste.
- Sturdy leashes, harnesses, and carriers to transport pets safely and to ensure that your pets can’t escape. Carriers should be large enough to allow your pet to stand comfortably, turn around, and lie down. (Your pet may have to stay in the carrier for hours at a time.)
- Current photos of you with your pets and descriptions of your pets to help others identify them in case you and your pets become separated—and to prove that they are yours once you’re reunited.
- Pet beds and toys, if you can easily take them, to reduce stress.
- Written information about your pets’ feeding schedules, medical conditions, and behavior issues along with the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to board your pets or place them in foster care.
Other useful items include newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags, grooming items, and household bleach.If you evacuate, take your pet:Rule number one: If it isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for your pets.
Even if you think you will only be gone for a few hours, take your pets. You have no way of knowing how long you’ll be kept out of the area, and you may not be able—or allowed—to go back for your pets.Pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Those left inside your home can escape through storm-damaged areas, such as broken windows. And pets turned loose to fend for themselves are likely to become victims of exposure, starvation, predators, contaminated food or water, or accidents. Leaving dogs tied or chained outside in a disaster is a death sentence.Rule number two: Evacuate early
. Don’t wait for a mandatory evacuation order. Some people who have waited to be evacuated by emergency officials have been told to leave their pets behind.The smell of smoke, high winds or lightening may make your pet more fearful and difficult to load into a crate or carrier. Evacuating before conditions become severe will keep everyone safer and make the process less stressful.If you stay home, do it safely:
If your family and pets must wait out a storm or other disaster at home, identify a safe area of your home where you can all stay together. Make that safe area animal friendly:
- Close off or eliminate unsafe nooks and crannies where frightened cats may try to hide.
- Move dangerous items such as tools or toxic products that have been stored in the area.
Be sure to close your windows and doors, stay inside, and follow the instructions from your local emergency management office.
If you can’t get home to your pet:
- Bring your pets indoors as soon as local authorities say trouble is on the way. Keep pets under your direct control; if you have to evacuate, you will not have to spend time trying to find them. Keep dogs on leashes and cats in carriers, and make sure they are wearing identification.
- If you have a room you can designate as a “safe room,” put your emergency supplies in that room in advance, including your pet’s crate and supplies. Have any medications and a supply of pet food and water inside watertight containers, along with your other emergency supplies. If there is an open fireplace, vent, pet door, or similar opening in the house, close it off with plastic sheeting and strong tape.
- Listen to the radio periodically, and don’t come out until you know it’s safe.
There may be times that you can’t get home to take care of your pets. Icy roads may trap you at the office overnight, an accident may send you to the hospital—things happen. But you can make sure your pets get the care they need by making arrangements now:
- Find a trusted neighbor, friend, or family member and give him or her a key to your house or barn. Make sure this back-up caretaker is comfortable and familiar with your pets (and vice versa).
- Make sure your back-up caretaker knows your pets’ whereabouts and habits.
- Let your back-up caretaker know where your pets’ food is and where you normally feed them and keep their water bowl, and if they need any medication.
- If you use a pet sitting service, find out in advance if they will be able to help in case of an emergency.