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On the Ready: Disaster Preparedness For Pet Safety and Peace of Mind

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If you have lived through any natural disaster, you know that every second counts when evacuating or sheltering in place. Each disaster, whether it be a hurricane, flooding, or fire, has its own manner of getting to safety.

When it comes to the unexpected and your pets, they require different things than your family might, and planning ahead can save you precious time and energy when facing a natural disaster. May 8 is Animal Disaster Preparedness Day, so we want to share our best tips for being ready for a natural disaster with pets.

Where to Go

If you receive an evacuation warning or order, it can be difficult to figure out where to go with your pets. That’s because many emergency shelters for humans do not accept animals. Heading out on the road in a disaster, but not knowing where to go with your pets, creates both a human and pet safety concern.

That’s why it’s so important to plan ahead for safe harbor in the event you need to evacuate. Here are some good options to consider.

  • Check pet-friendly lodging sites such as BringFido or PetsWelcome.
  • Find a boarding kennel or veterinary hospital outside your region.
  • Look for animal shelters and rescues that house pets temporarily in emergency situations.
  • Ask family and friends if they would house you and your pets if you needed to evacuate your home.
  • Call veterinary clinics outside your immediate area and ask where they would recommend your pets be housed.

The most important thing is to never leave your pets behind should you evacuate, especially in a fire or flooding situation. If you leave without your pet, even for a short time, you may not be able to return due to road closures or unsafe conditions. If you’re not home during an evacuation, enlist the help of a neighbor or friend to evacuate your pets for you. Speak with them in advance, before there is a crisis. Make sure they have a key to your home, know your pets and their usual hiding places, and can easily locate your pet’s evacuation kit.

Your Pet’s Disaster Kit

In the event that your home loses power, you need to remain in your home, or you need to evacuate, it’s a good idea to have a pet “go-bag” with everything needed if you’re evacuated. Store these items in a secure box or tote in an easily accessible place – not the back of a closet or the darkest corner of the basement.

  • A two-week supply of pet food and water, and pet food and water bowls. Rotate perishables every two weeks.
  • Leash, collar and tags, and/or harness.
  • Litter pan, scoop, and a two-week supply of litter for cats, or pet waste bags
  • Pet medications, veterinary medical records, and a current photo of your pet
  • A crate or carrier
  • Items to help your pet feel more comfortable, such as a pet bed, treats, and toys
  • A pet first aid kit

Other Disaster Preparedness Tips

There are a few other things to consider when planning for an emergency with pets.

  • Is your pet up to date on vaccinations, as well as heartworm prevention and parasite control?
  • Does your pet have a microchip, and is it registered with the national pet recovery database with your current contact information?
  • Do your pet’s tags have your correct contact information listed?
  • Invest in “Pets Inside” window decals with the species, breed, and name of your pets. This will let first responders know you have pets and will allow them to rescue your pets and bring them to safety in the event you cannot get your pet.
  • Have an emergency contact list, including emergency veterinary hospitals, in your pet’s evacuation kit, and keep it current.

Planning for an emergency can be overwhelming, but we hope these ideas have made it just a bit easier to tackle one thing at a time. Being ready for a natural disaster with pets can save you time and stress. If you would like more information about disaster preparedness with pets, please give our team a call.

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