Although we haven’t seen one yet, it is hurricane season. Hopefully you have an emergency plan in place for your family so that you can respond swiftly and safely to a disaster- but does it include your pet? An estimated 70,000 pets remained in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Fifteen thousand of these pets were rescued, but only about 20% of these pets were reunited with their owners.
Pets are important members of many families, so, to keep your animal companions safe, consider these tips for pet preparedness.
Pack your Pet’s Suitcase: In the case that you need to evacuate, pets will need certain supplies that you can either add to your family’s emergency kit or include in a separate pet preparedness kit. Along with food and a crate or other carrier, it’s a good idea to pack a recent photo of you and your pet in case you do get separated. For a complete list of kit items from the ASPCA, see http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/disaster-preparedness/.
Arrange Pet-Friendly Accommodations: As not all emergency relief shelters accept pets, it’s good to check around for alternate pet-friendly accommodations in the event you must evacuate your home. Check with out-of-town friends to see if they would be willing to take-in your pet in case of an emergency, or check with local animal shelters to see if they will shelter pets during emergencies. You can also check with kennels along your likely evacuation route and with hotels and motels to see which ones allow pets.
Get Your Pet’s Contact Information In Order: Be sure that your pet is wearing an up to date identification tag that includes his/her name, your name and telephone number (include a mobile number in case you are evacuated from your home) and any medical needs that could become urgent. Write your telephone number in permanent ink on your pet’s collar, in case the tag is lost. Write this information on the pet carrier you include in your pet emergency kit as well. Also, be sure to add your veterinarian’s contact information to your family’s list of emergency contacts. And, note the contact information of emergency pet medical care providers around your likely evacuation route.
To learn more,
The North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine has extensive information regarding pet and livestock preparedness at http://www.cvm.ncsu.edu/awepp/disaster_prep.html.
FEMA http://www.ready.gov/america/_downloads/pets.pdf, the Humane Society of the US http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/animal_rescue/tips/disaster_preparedness_pets.html , and the ASPCA http://www.ready.gov/america/index.html all have worthwhile resources on pet preparedness as well.