5 disaster tips for pet parents
Be prepared to keep pets safe
Catastrophes come in many forms: fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, violent storms and even terrorism. In the event of extreme weather or a disaster, would you know what to do to protect your pet?
Unfortunately, most pet owners are unsure of what action they would take if ever faced with such a situation. The American Pet Products Association (APPA) National Pet Owners Survey reports that many pet owners have thought about disaster response but are not sure what they would do to care for their pet.
The best thing a responsible pet owner can do is to be prepared ahead of time.
1. Prepare a "Grab & Go" pet disaster travel kit
Animal-advocacy and disaster-response organizations recommend having a disaster travel kit readily available for your pet. Good news: It’s easy to pull one together.
Keep a small duffel bag or something as simple as a recycled shopping bag filled with the items listed below in a readily-accessible area that you can quickly grab when evacuation is necessary.
Your disaster travel kit should contain essential pet supplies for at least five days.
- Pets regular food
- Portable feeding bowls
- Bottled water
- Collar or harness with ID tags and leash
- Pet medications. In addition to regular prescriptions, talk to your veterinarian about calming medications if you think your pet will be anxious.
- A favorite pet toy
- Garbage bags or doggie waste bags, paper towels, small litter box, scoop and litter. Cleaning supplies can also be useful, if you have room.
- Current photos of your pets. These are important in case your become separated and need to post on "lost pet" services or create flyers.
- List of important phone numbers. Your veterinarian, local animal shelters, pet-friendly lodgings, friends, relatives, etc.
- List of current vaccinations and medical conditions
- Soft fabric muzzle. Some pets become nippy when scared or stressed, and comfortable fabric muzzle will keep everyone safer.
While not part of the kit, getting your pet a microchip ID is also an important step in disaster prep. Collars can be slipped, ID tags can fall off but a microchip is forever. Be sure to register your pet’s chip to ensure the best chance at reunion.
2. Pet kennels and bedding
If you have the time to locate your pet's bed or a blanket before evacuating your home, bring them. These items can help reduce your pet's stress and to keep him as comfortable as possible.
Even better is a pet carrier and/or portable kennel, especially for cats. A carrier or kennel will help shield your pet from strange noise, curious onlookers and other wandering pets. It will also prevent your pet from becoming skittish and fleeing, potentially separating you in the chaos. Use a permanent marker to put your name and phone numbers on the carrier.
Be sure to acclimate your pet to the carrier beforehand, by putting treats inside or even feeding meals there.
3. Locate an emergency shelter that accepts pets
Should you have to evacuate to a shelter, it is important to keep in mind that not all emergency shelters accept pets. Researching shelters and boarding facilities for your pet now can help you avoid the difficulties of locating a place for your pet to stay during a disaster. Your veterinarian or local municipal animal shelter may be able to point you in the right direction.
4. Find a pet-friendly hotel
Make inquiries ahead of time. Contact hotels outside of your immediate area and ask if they have pet-friendly policies and/or restrictions. You might even ask if “no pet” policies can be waived in case of an emergency. Make sure to keep a list with phone numbers of pet-friendly places in your pet's grab & go travel kit. While there are apps that will locate hotels, veterinarians and boarding kennels, you may need to reserve power on your cell phone and cell systems may be inoperable or overloaded in an emergency.
5. Reach out to friends
Don't wait until disaster approaches; check to see if friends or relatives outside of your disaster zone would be willing to shelter your pet in the case of an emergency. Preparing for an emergency now can benefit your family later, time is of essence. Consider getting your pet insured as part of being prepared for whatever may happen. Get a quote today!