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Those little four legged furry friends we call our pets can easily be at risk when disaster strikes. Today I offer tips for doing as much as you can, in advance, to insure that these special loved ones make it through the crisis so that you can successfully be united when the emergency passes.
Before the Disaster
First and foremost, make sure that your pets are current on their vaccinations. This will not only protect them from the nasties, but will also insure that they will not be turned away from a pet or people shelter. And please, keep a copy of the vaccination records in your bug-out-bag, first aid kit, or on the flash drive that you carry on your person at all times.
Another thing: make a copy of your pet’s license and a current photograph and keep them with your emergency documents. This may sound obvious but tell me, have you done this yet?
Make sure the ID tags on your pet are current and that they include your emergency contact information. In addition, I suggest micro-chipping your pet. A microchip is permanent and will identify your pet if he becomes lost. The cost is low and virtually all shelters and veterinary clinics can read the information on the chip, greatly increasing the likelihood that you will be reunited.
Have a properly-sized pet carrier for each animal. Your carrier should be large enough for your pet to stand and turn around and if possible, large enough for some food and water as well.
Identify possible boarding facilities or shelters for your pet in advance. The possibilities include specialized pet shelters, animal control shelters, veterinary clinics and friends and relatives that live out of harm’s way. In the unlikely chance that you will need to evacuate and leave your home, you will need to know your options so it is best to do your research now, when you have the luxury of time.
Keep in mind that for public health reasons, many emergency shelters cannot accept pets. One thing you can do in advance is identify which motels and hotels in the area you plan to evacuate to will allow pets. If a hurricane or flood is predicted in your area, consider moving yourself, your family, and your pets out of harms way well in advance of the predicted storm.
Find a trusted neighbor and give them a key to your house. Make sure this person is comfortable and familiar with your pets and knows our pet’s whereabouts and habits. This way they will not have to waste precious time trying to find or catch your pet if you can not make it home during an emergency. The best way to do this is to make a reciprocal arrangement so you can also keep watch for their pets.
During the Disaster
Bring your pets inside immediately. Animals have instincts about severe weather changes and will often isolate themselves if they are afraid. Bringing them inside early can stop them from running away. Never leave a pet outside or tied up during a storm.
Be sure to have newspapers on hand for sanitary purposes. If you can, feed the animals moist or canned food so they will need less water to drink.
If you evacuate your home, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND! Pets most likely cannot survive on their own; and if by some remote chance they do, you may not be able to find them when you return.
If you have no alternative but to leave your pet at home, there are some precautions you must take, but remember that leaving your pet at home alone can place your animal in great danger!
- Confine your pet to a safe area inside — NEVER leave your pet chained outside!
- Leave them loose inside your home with food and plenty of water.
- Remove the toilet tank lid, raise the seat and brace the bathroom door open so they can drink.
- Place a large notice in the window or outside your home in a visible area, advising what pets are in the house and where they are located.
- Provide a phone number where you or a contact can be reached as well as the name and number of your vet.
Animals brought to a pet shelter will be required to have proper identification including, a collar, leash, and a rabies tag. Be sure to bring with you an ample supply of food and water plus any special instructions and medication. It would not hurt to include a favorite toy or blanket. And for goodness sake, take steps now to housetrain your pet!
Pet shelters, if available, are typically filled on first come, first served basis. Be sure to call ahead and determine availability.
After the Disaster
Your pet may be disoriented and even aggressive after a major disaster. Like you, they will be stressed. Be patient and walk your pet around the premises with a least until they become re-oriented to your home – often familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and pets could easily be confused and become lost. Also, downed power lines, reptiles brought in with high water and debris can all pose a threat for animals after a disaster.
If your pet is lost and cannot be found after a disaster, contact the local animal control office to find out where lost animals can be recovered. Bring along a picture of your pet and if you can, assist in the rescue operation.
The Pet Survival Kit
You have prepared a survival kit for yourself, now get to it and prepare a kit for your pet as well. Here are the basics:
- Proper identification including vaccination records and a photo
- Food and bottled water
- Food Bowl
- Pet carrier
- Collar, leash and if needed, a muzzle
- Chew toys and a favorite blanket
The Most Important Thing
Remember, the single most important thing you can do to protect your pets is to take them with you when you evacuate. Still need convincing?
- Animals left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost or killed.
- Animals left inside your home can escape through storm-damaged areas, such as broken windows.
- Animals turned loose to fend for themselves are likely to become victims of exposure, starvation, predators, contaminated food or water, or accidents.
- Leaving dogs tied or chained outside in a disaster is a death sentence.
Your pets deserve better.
Even if you think you may only be gone for a few hours, take your pets. When you leave, you have no way of knowing how long you’ll be kept out of the area, and you may not be able to go back for your pets until it is too late. If an evacuation is anticipated. Don’t wait. Leave early. After all, an unnecessary trip is far better than waiting too long to leave safely with your pets.
Bottom line? Be prepared. Plan your evacuation strategy in advance and if you do have to leave, and don’t forget your pet!
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
Kingston Digital DataTraveler Flash Drive: I have at least a half dozen of these flash drives. They are perfect for storing copies of your vital documents as well as emergency contact numbers and photos of family members and pets. For just a bit more, you can get the 8GB version which is a better value.
Lodge Logic 4-Quart Cast-Iron Camp Dutch Oven: Love it love it love it. This is the perfect size for all types of things: baked beans, stews, and my favorite, peach cobbler. Watch for a review soon! Don’t forget the Lodge Set of 2 Pan Scrapers, a must have for cleaning those food bits from your cast iron cookware.
Sabre Family Home and Property Protection Pepper Spray (13.0-Ounce): From the company that makes bear defense sprays, this pepper spray has a range of 30 feet and can be mounted right near the door.
550lb. Type III Paracord 100′ Black: I wish I had known about Paracord years ago. There is no reason not to have a few hundred feet around your home, in your car, and in your bug out bag.
Emergency Essentials is your source for all things preparedness, from prepackaged foods to water barrels, to go bag kits. They just announced a number of specials for the month of September including ASAP Silver Solution is an 8 ounce bottle. Metallic silver has been used for centuries as a natural antibacterial agent for wound care, and even water treatment.