National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day is a day meant to bring awareness to the importance of creating a plan of what to do in a natural disaster for not only your human family but also your pets. Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes happen around the world every year and can cause chaos and confusion in communities, especially when an evacuation is required.
By creating an emergency plan in advance and including a plan for your pets in that plan, you can ensure that you’ll be prepared for the unknown, especially in the case you need to leave your home quickly.
There are a number of ways you can prepare for a disaster with your pets:
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Create an emergency supply kit for your pet in an easy to carry bag. If possible, consider making two kits – one in case you stay in your home and a smaller one in case you have to evacuate.
- 3-day supply of food, in an airtight waterproof container
- 3-day supply of water, specifically for your pet
- Water dish and food bowl
- Medicines, medical records and vaccine records, in a sealed plastic bag
- Collar, identification tag, harness and a sturdy leash
- Crate (if easily transportable) and blankets to keep warm in case of a power outage
- A picture of you and your pet together – in case you become separated from your animal, you can show the picture to rescuers to easily prove ownership when they are found.
If you need to evacuate, familiarize yourself with safe pet friendly places to stay along your evacuation route. Hotels and motels that normally prohibit non-service animals may allow pets to stay in the case of an emergency, so be sure to call ahead and ask what their policy is. Make reservations if you know in advance that there is a chance you may be forced to leave your home BringFido.com is an excellent resource for identifying lodging that is pet friendly.
Ask friends, family, your vet and boarding facilities that are not in the immediate area of danger if they can care for your animal in case of an emergency. Create a list with phone numbers ahead of time so you don’t have to waste precious time searching for contact information.
Make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date. Most boarding facilities will require proof of vaccinations before accepting your pet.
Keep collars and ID tags on your pets. Also, ensure that tag identification information is up to date. If possible, consider microchipping your pet – in case you get separated and their collar slips off, it’s another way for rescuers to contact you when your pet is found.
Identify pets in your home. Consider decals on the windows near the front door of your home indicating what animals and how many are in the house. First responders will see this and can rescue the animals if you are not home.
Get training! For so many safety reasons it's important that your dogs have basic training. In an emergency, it's critical that your dog comes to you when called. Also, it's a good idea to have your dogs comfortable in a crate, in case you and your pets have to go into emergency transportation or accommodation.
Plan ahead. Planning ahead will leave you better prepared in case or when a disaster strikes. Before you leave town, let a neighbor know how they can get in to your home and where your emergency kit is so they can assist in protecting your pets. Please remember, that if it isn’t safe for you to stay in your home, it’s not safe for your pet either!