This spring has been such a scary time for natural disasters, from tornadoes, floods, and wildfires in North America to earthquakes and tsunamis overseas. Just last week, we attended a wildfire preparedness meeting in our area held by the Forest Service with information on ways to “harden” your home to make it more fire-resistant and preparations you can take before a fire to make sure you can evacuate quickly and safely.
One of the points that was emphasized in the meeting we attended was, of course, evacuating your pets when you evacuate. If you only have minutes to evacuate in an emergency situation, it pays to already have packed some emergency supplies–for you and your pets–and have an emergency plan in place.
Check out these excellent tips from Last Chance for Animals, a national non-profit animal rights organization that recently has been working to help the pets of Japan after the terrible tsunami:
1. PET IDENTIFICATION
It’s important that pets wear a collar with current contact information. However, since collars can come off, an even better way for a lost pet to be identified and returned is to microchip or permanently tattoo the collar information on their inside rear leg.
DogTipper Note: We recommend storing your dog’s microchip number and a photo of your dog OUTSIDE your home. If your home is destroyed, you need to be able to access a photo of your dog and his microchip number. See our article on “Storing Photos of Your Dog In Case of an Emergency.” We’d also recommend that you check and make sure your information is up-to-date and that your dog’s microchip number is registered with a service such as HomeAgain.
2. FOOD RESERVE
You may not be able to find your pet’s regular food in an emergency situation, so be sure to keep one week’s worth of pet food on hand. (This can be especially important for cats that may be traumatized and may not eat a new brand of food. )
Have extra bottles of fresh water on hand for your pet to last at least one week.
Have all your pet’s medications easily available and have enough extra to last a week or so in case the veterinarian or source of your medications is wiped out due to the emergency.
5. ANIMAL CARRIER
Have a nice sturdy animal carrier readily available that your pet is accustomed to. Make sure your pet is used to it beforehand so they are not scared when you try to put them in it. Make sure the carrier locks and is escape proof.
6. SECURE PET’S PERSONAL ITEMS
Bring your pet’s favorite toys, blankets, etc., and make sure to have extra leashes on hand for dogs, and have towels or thick gloves on hand for cats. Sometimes even the most docile cat will bite when they are terrified, so be prepared ahead of time.
7. LOCATE SHELTERS
Be sure you know where all the shelters are or places that could take you and your pet. It’s also a good idea to leave a note on your home as to how many animals live there, as well as a current photo of your animal(s) incase you get separated.
8. DESIGNATE CAREGIVERS
Make arrangements with friends or family to take care of your pet ahead of time, much like you would with a Will. Let the people know that you are entrusting them with your pet, and make sure that all the parties involved, including your pet and the new caregivers, are comfortable with one another ahead of time.
9. PRACTICE EVACUATING
Know your evacuation routes out of town and have multiple routes lined up. Practice an evacuation ahead of time. Get to know how long it takes you to gather everyone. Get your pets used to this so when the real deal happens they will be a lot less stressed and a lot more manageable.
10. EMOTIONAL SUPPORT
In an emergency situation, your pet is likely to be scared and nervous. Treat them like you would a small child as they are totally dependent upon you for their survival. Provide them with lots of attention, including soothing, reassuring words. Know how to read your pet’s non-verbal communication as some pets may wish to hide and be left alone, while others may be clingy and want to be by your side at all times.