Do you know what to do in case of a storm, flood, tornado, blackout or any other emergency? Sure, these disasters may never happen, but knowing what to do in the off chance that they do happen can save you and your pet's life. We know how scary it must be to even imagine it happening, but having a pet disaster plan will help you stay alert and keep your pet out of harm's way.
We have a problem though... no one teaches us about the 101 on how to protect your animal companions during disasters! That's why we put together this little guide that will help you save your pet when the going gets tough.
It all starts with YOU!
But wait a minute, in the first place, can you honestly say that you are well-prepared in case disaster strikes? You can only protect your pets if you know how to protect yourself in case disaster strikes.
What you need to do in case of an evacuation...
Whatever the disaster may be, you may have to leave behind your home and evacuate. This happens when it just isn't safe enough for you to stay. If it's not safe enough for you to stay, it's probably not safe enough for your pets to stay in your place as well.
Have a pet preparedness plan ready to use.
At the core of protecting your animal companions during disasters is a pet preparedness plan that you can implement right away. Remember, when disaster strikes, you will virtually have no time to stop and think about your options. You will have to be on autopilot and work exactly according to plan. Your pet disaster plan must address the following:
1. Know the safest places for your pets
Usually the most common question when creating a pet disaster plan is knowing where to place your pets. You should make an effort to find out which shelters allow animals. The Red Cross does not allow pets in their shelters, as mandated by local and state health and safety regulations.
- Find hotels or motels that can accommodate your pet. Your safest option is to check hotels and motels within your area regarding their policies on accepting pets, and if they have special considerations during emergencies. Also ask about whether there are restrictions on the size and the species that they take in. You must have your list of pet-friendly hotels with you and the directions to go there.
- Talk to your friends or relatives. Think of friends and family that love pets as much as you do and live near your area… I’m sure you can think of one! You can then arrange to use their house to shelter your pets. You can convince them much faster if you offer your house in case a disaster strikes in their place.
- Consider your vet. Sometimes, your vet will be more than happy to accommodate your pet if the vet clinic has accommodations. They are likely to have a list of boarding facilities that can shelter your pet in case of emergencies.
2. Make arrangements if you’re not home.
In case you’re not home when disaster strikes, you might also want to make arrangements for your neighbor or family friend to attend to your pet. You can also have an emergency caretaker who knows about your disaster preparedness plan for your pet.
3. If you need to stay, make sure you are safe.
In case there is a storm warning and the instruction is for you stay at home, do your best for your place to be pet-friendly. You can do this by closing off any corners that your pet may hide in. You should also take away any tools or hazardous materials that might harm your pet.
You should also safely keep all emergency supplies in an accessible place. This should include your pet food, water, extra long retractable dog leash, and silent dog whistle. You should also include a pet first-aid kit, disposable litter trays, disposable garbage bags, pet feeding dishes, 3 to 7 worth of canned goods, bottled water that’s good for at least 7 days, and a travelling bag. Trust us, all these will come in handy for your pet during and after a disaster.
4. Take care of your pet and pay attention to any signs after the disaster.
The disaster may be over, but that certainly doesn’t mean that you can afford to go back to normal just like that. Your pet will surely feel disoriented, and you will have to deal with the after-effects of the disaster. You may also have to clean the area, especially in cases of flood, to make sure there’s no traces of wild animals that may pose a threat for your pet.
5. Take your environment into account.
While making your disaster preparedness plan, you also have to consider the natural disasters your area is most prone to, like earthquakes, floods, or tornadoes. You wouldn’t plan that thoroughly for a tornado if your area has never experienced one in the past 20 years, would you? It would be smarter to prepare for common disasters that happen in your area, although you should still have a plan of action for rare disasters.
Of course, your disaster plan for your pet would amount to a mere scrap of paper if you don’t put it into action. As a last word, keep in mind: PRACTICE! An actual disaster will always be much more intense, but it’s good to know that you more or less have a series of steps to follow when disaster strikes.