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Disaster can strike at any moment. Would you be prepared to get your pets out of your home and possibly the entire area with little or no warning?
In the wake of Hurricane Harvey & Hurricane Irma, many pets have found themselves abandoned and even homeless. With the waters rising, rescuers have done their best to go into the flooded areas to search for any survivors.
Some of the lucky ones have made it out alive.
Losing a pet is devastating enough, but if it could have been prevented? That takes a bad situation and makes it unbearable.
In this post, we will cover some important tips on preparing your pets for a disaster.
Tip # 1 – ID Your Pet
Make sure your dog and cat are wearing an up-to-date ID tag. This should include your cell phone number and an alternative number just in case you cannot be located.
Microchipping will also help ensure your pet will be reunited with you; however, this doesn’t take the place of an ID collar. The average person finding your fur baby most likely won’t have a scanner to read the chip, but they will have the ability to read a tag.
Tip # 2 – Put Together a Pet Disaster Kit
You can include many items in a disaster kit, but the basics should include;
- Food and water for at least five days for each pet in your household. You will also want to include bowls and a manual can opener (if feeding wet food).
- Medications and medical records – store these in airtight plastic bags or containers. A pet first aid kit may also come in handy.
- Cat paraphernalia – litter box, scoop, cat litter and garbage bags to collect the waste.
- Leashes, harnesses, and carriers – this is a must to transport your pets safely and to prevent them from escaping during all the chaos.
- Current photos of pets with description – if you do get separated from your animals, this provides a means of identification and proof of ownership.
- Written information on your pet – this can include behaviors, feeding schedules, medications, etc. You will also want to include your veterinarian’s name, number, and address. This information will be vital in case you need to foster your pet.
Having a pet disaster kit may just save your animal when trouble strikes. To help put your kit together, download a PDF checklist of items here.
Tip # 3 – Know Your Options in Finding a Pet-Friendly Place to Stay
Most shelters will allow animals in the wake of a disaster; however, you will want a backup place. Call your local office of emergency management to verify there are pet-friendly shelters in your area and where they are located.
Contact hotels and motels outside of your immediate area to see about their pet policies. Ask if they would waive this restriction if it were disaster-related.
Keep a list of these places handy or in your pet disaster kit in case you need to evacuate. Having this information at-the-ready is paramount, especially in the time of crisis when stress is running high and time is of the essence.
Friend or relatives are other options when it comes to finding safe places to house your pets. You would want these folks to be located outside of your immediate area, as well.
Consider a kennel or veterinarian’s office for boarding. Make a list of those outside your immediate area that may be able to help in the time of crisis. Also be sure to keep the vet’s 24-hour emergency number.
Lastly, call your local rescue groups to see about foster plans or sheltering your pet. Note these organizations are usually limited on funds and will likely be filled to the brim in the time of a disaster.
Tip # 4 – Make a Plan if You Can’t Be Home
Unfortunately, a disaster doesn’t usually call ahead to make reservations before it wipes out an area. If you’re not home when the unthinkable occurs, you will want to have a trusted friend, neighbor, relative or pet sitter go in and get your animals.
Give your backup a key to your home and any instructions for your pets. This could include where they might be hiding, their habits and where your disaster kit is located.
You will also want to have a designated rendezvous point and an alternative in case one is closed off, to get your pets back into your care.
Tip # 5 – Evacuate Early and Take Your Pet
An eminent storm or danger is coming, don’t wait until the mandatory evacuation is issued. Get out early and take your pets with you. Waiting until the last moment can put your pets at risk. Animals tend to panic when they perceive a threat. This can make them run away, hide and more difficult to get into a carrier.
In the case of immediate evacuations, the officials can also be ordered to leave pets behind, so don’t take a chance of losing your beloved fur baby due to the red tape.
Tip # 6 – If You Stay Home, Do it Safely
Not all circumstances will have you in evacuation-mode. But you will need a plan to safeguard your pets while riding out the storm.
- Bring your pets indoors as soon as the officials say trouble is on its way.
- Designate a safe room – have your supplies in this room (disaster pet kit)
- Close off vents, fireplace pet doors, etc. with strong plastic and duct tape.
- Move dangerous items – this can include toxic chemicals or household items that could shatter.
- Stay tuned into the radio for updates
Tip # 7 – Safeguard Your Pets after the Disaster is Over
After the disaster is over, your home may not be in the same condition you left it in. For this reason, you will want to safeguard your pets.
- Never let them free-roam – familiar sights and smells may be different which can disorientate your pet.
- Assess the damage – keep pets secure in carriers or on leashes while you gauge the damage in your home. Broken glass or holes in the wall (escaping) can both pose threats to your fur babies.
- Check for wild animals – some circumstances may have wild animals entering into areas they may not have done so before the disaster (Houston yards are seeing alligators). Make sure there are no interlopers that could pose a threat to you and your pets.
- Be patient – your pets are going to be stressed and upset as well, so try to get them back on their normal routine as soon as possible.
Being Prepared Saves Lives
No one wants to think of a disaster striking, but being prepared may just save you and your pet’s life. Have a plan in place to get your animals out of your home safely, and don’t wait until the last minute. Remember, if it’s not safe for you, it’s not safe for your pets.
Make Big Daddy Biscuits part of your disaster kit. We will donate 15% of all sales on any of our organic dog biscuits to help needy animals in Houston and Florida.