Do you have a pet emergency preparedness plan?
Why is it important to prepare for a disaster with a pet disaster plan? The obvious answer is that disasters kill people and animals with equal devastation. Natural disasters come in all different ways including fires, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods. Man-made disasters include toxic chemical spills, oil leaks, pollution, and other bio-hazards. Often, there is little advanced warning of these dangers, resulting in quick evacuations of homes and entire communities are to get people and pets out of harm’s way. If you are unprepared and without an emergency action plan, your opportunity to save yourself and your pets greatly diminishes.
Protect your entire family with a pet emergency preparedness plan.
When you get prepared with a pet disaster plan, you and your pets have a much better chance of surviving should a natural or man-made disaster.
Your pet emergency action plan starts with you!
Your first step in preparing for an unexpected disaster is to have a emergency action plan for the human members of your home. If you are unprepared to take care of yourself, you are reducing the chances you will be able to care for your pets too. Three basics steps can save your life and the life of your pet 1. Plan, 2. Prepare, and 3. Practice! Don’t put off getting started, your life could depend on it!
Create a pet emergency preparedness plan.
Once you have your “people” emergency action plan finished it’s time to start on your pet disaster plan. The two most important elements of your emergency response plan checklist are to:
– Move them safely. Determine how you can safely evacuate all your pets in a controlled manner.
– Find emergency shelter. Know in advance where you are going to house your pets temporarily.
If you have an abundance of pets, or if your animals tend to be on the larger size, these first two actions can be very challenging, which is all the more reason to develop your pet emergency preparedness plan today! Some disasters allow a little time with advanced warnings to get you and your pets to a safe location. If a voluntary evacuation order is issued by public safety officials, it’s the time to kick things into gear. It may be too late to reach safety if you wait until the evacuation order becomes mandatory. Being forced to leave pets behind because you delayed taking action is not a situation you want to be in.
A well designed emergency response plan checklist will guide you through gathering the information and supplies you will need to evacuate quickly and safely. Start your plan with window alert stickers displaying “Animal(s) Inside” to let emergency personnel know there are animals in the home that need to be rescued. You can always make these labels yourself by printing on single sheet label paper from your nearby office supply store. If you have these stickers posted on your house and you evacuate your animals during an emergency or disaster, write on the sticker Animals Removed plus the date. After the disaster is over you will then have to replace the sticker.
One of the most critical components of your pet emergency preparedness plan is to determine how to safely and securely move your pet out of harm’s way to an emergency shelter.
Prevent your pets from getting hurt during an evacuation, here are some thought starters to transport them safely:
– Birds – use their own cage whenever possible. If it is too large to move or transport use a smaller secondary cage.
– Cats – use pet carrier or an EvaSak or similar
– Dogs – use a pet carrier or a leash
– Fish – use their own bowl or tank if it is small enough to move. Remember to cover the top to keep the water and fish in.
– Pocket Pets like Hamsters, Gerbils, Guinea Pigs, or Mice – use their own cage, or a smaller pet carrier
– Rabbits – use a transport cage (not a cardboard box or it can chew its way out)
– Reptiles – use their own cage or a smaller transport cage
– Turtles – use their own container or a smaller secondary carrier
Large Animal Evacuation
The best way to evacuate large animals, such as cows, goats, horses, pigs, or sheep is with a horse or stock trailer. If you are like many people out there without one of these specific trailers, then you must include finding alternative safe transportation for your large animals in you pet emergency preparedness plan.
Your pet rescue plan needs to include an emergency shelter or location that accepts pets and animals. Understand that most if not all human evacuation shelters do not allow pets or animals. Your emergency action plan must include locations unaffected by the disaster where your can temporarily keep your animals. The best pet emergency action plan will have more than one safe haven location as a backup in case you cannot get to you primary destination.
If you are caught unprepared without a pet rescue plan, DO NOT leave your pets behind assuming that you can come back for them later. In a declared evacuation area, it is unlikely that you will be allowed to return home to retrieve your pets until the disaster is cleared for a safe return. Your disaster plan should include someone who can reach and retrieve your pets in the event of a disaster in case you are not at home. Offer to provide the same services to your neighbors. If someone watches your animals while you are on vacation, talk with them about pet disaster plan to be used to evacuate and care for your animals in your absence.
Temporary pet housing options to consider in your pet emergency preparedness plan. Here are some locations to consider for housing your animals temporarily:
– animal rescue groups
– animal control
– humane society
– animal shelters
– boarding kennels
– pet dog and cat clubs
– dog parks
– pet day-care centers
– equestrian centers
– fairgrounds (for larger animals)
– grooming facilities
– pet friendly hotels
– veterinary clinics with boarding space
– nearby family members, friends, or co-workers.