Hurricane Season is here and it is an obvious time for pet owners to review their disaster preparedness plan for our pets. However, this plan should be in place all year in case of an emergency.
The Center for Disease Control offers the following suggestions regarding disaster preparedness for pets. It is a very comprehensive overview with great information to share with your staff, volunteers and community.
If a natural disaster strikes, what will happen to your pet? Leaving pets out of evacuation plans can put pets, pet owners, and first responders in danger. Even if you try to create a safe place for them, pets left behind during a disaster are likely to be injured, lost, or worse. It is your responsibility as a pet owner to find out what type of shelters and assistance are available in your area to accommodate pets and to include pets in your disaster plan to keep them safe during an emergency.
Have you included pets in your disaster plan? Do not wait until it is too late. Start today by doing the following:
Be prepared: make a plan and prepare a disaster kit for your pet.
Have a Plan!
- Make sure your pet(s) wear collars and tags with up-to-date contact information and other identification.
- Microchip your pet(s) – this is one of the best ways to ensure that you and your pet are reunited if you are separated. Always be sure to register the microchip with the manufacturer and keep your contact information up to date with the microchip company.
- Purchase a pet carrier for each of your pets (write your pet’s name, your name and contact information on each carrier). Familiarize your pet with its transport crate before a crisis.
- Keep a leash and/or carrier nearby the exit.
- Ensure proper equipment for pets to ride in the car (carriers, harnesses, and pet seatbelts).
- If you do not have a car, arrange transportation with neighbors, family and friends. You can also contact your local government to learn about transportation options during a disaster.
Decide where you and your pet are going to stay. Based on the severity of a disaster, you may have two options for your pets:
- Sheltering in place
- Sheltering in a facility away from home (during an evacuation)
Sheltering in Place
When sheltering at home with your pet, make sure the room chosen is pet-friendly in the following ways:
- Select a safe room, preferably an interior room with no (or few) windows.
- Remove any toxic chemicals or plants.
- Close off small areas where frightened cats could get stuck in (such as vents or beneath heavy furniture).
Sheltering during an Evacuation
- Contact your local emergency management office and ask if they offer accommodations for owners and their pets.
- If accommodations are needed for your pet(s) contact local veterinary clinics, boarding facilities, and local animal shelters. Visit the Humane Society website to find a shelter in your area.
- Contact family or friends outside the evacuation area.
- Contact a pet-friendly hotel, particularly along evacuation routes.
- Make plans before disaster strikes for where you and your pets will go. Be aware that pets may not be allowed in local human shelters, unless they are service animals.
- Check with family or friends outside the evacuation area.
- Pet-friendly hotels
Prepare a Pet Disaster Kit
Prepare a disaster kit for your pet(s), so evacuation will go smoothly for your entire family. Ask your veterinarian for help putting it together. Here is a checklist to get you started. Some examples of what to include are:
Disaster Supplies for Pets
- Food (in airtight waterproof containers or cans) and water for at least 2 weeks for each pet
- Food and water bowls and a manual can opener
- For cats: litter box and litter
- For dogs: plastic bags for poop
- Clean-up items for bathroom accidents (paper towels, plastic trash bags, and bleach-containing cleaning agent)
- Medications for at least 2 weeks, along with any treats used to give the medications and pharmacy contact for refills
- Sturdy leashes or harnesses
- Carrier or cage that is large enough for your pet to stand comfortably and turn around; towels or blankets
- Pet toys and bed (familiar items to help the pet[s] feel more comfortable).
- Rabies vaccination certificate
- Current vaccination record
- If your pet has a microchip, a record of the microchip number
- Prescription for medication(s)
- For cats, most recent FeLV/FIV test result or vaccination date
- Summary of pertinent medical history; ask your veterinarian for a copy
- A handout containing identification information (in the event you get separated from your pet)
- Current photo of pet
- Pet’s descriptive features (age, sex, neutered/non-neutered status, color(s), and approximate weight)
- Microchip number
- Owner contact information (cell phone, work phone, home phone)
- Contact information of a close relative or friend
- A handout with boarding instructions, such as feeding schedule, medications, and any known allergies and behavior problems
- Documents, medications, and food should be stored in waterproof containers