Pets and Emergencies
It is important to prepare for our animals’ safety and comfort in the event of an emergency. This month spend some time in planning and preparing as suggested below.
- Assess the individual needs of each animal. These will include food, water, medications, housing, exercise, grooming, etc. Some animals may also need climate control, a regular routine or to be sheltered from noise or excitement. List these requirements as thoroughly as you can.
- Make sure that you have adequate provisions at your home. Keep a couple weeks of extra food and medication on hand. Figure out how you will keep your tropical fish warm and your cashmere rabbit cool in an extended blackout.
- Make sure that your pets are current on any vaccinations they may require.
- Gather vaccination records, registration papers and any other important documents. Place together in a manila envelope or binder in a safe and accessible place.
- Be prepared to more easily find your pet if it is separated from you or lost. Take photos, add or update collar tags and consider tattooing or microchipping for more permanent identification.
- Decide whether all animals will evacuate with the family. In most cases this is desirable, but not always. You will probably feel very differently about providing for the on-the-road and emergency housing needs of the family dog versus a flock of chickens you were raising to butcher. Make these hard decisions now.
- Find someplace you can go that will accommodate your animals. Hotels and campgrounds will often post their policies online. Check ahead of time if you are planning to stay with friends or relatives. Fairgrounds will often provide facilities for larger animals in the event of evacuations.
- Put together a go-bag for each animal you will be evacuating. Include at least three days’ worth of food, water and medication. Include dishes, a leash, bedding, litter, puppy pads and other supplies to address each of the needs you listed. Consider purchasing a muzzle if applicable. Animals may panic and bite in a crisis, greatly compounding your difficulties.
- Provide sufficient restraint systems for automobile travel. A harness or travel carrier is a really good idea. Imagine a packed car and jangled nerves and then add in an overexcited animal…
- Bring a collapsible kennel or other enclosure to help in reestablishing “home”. Keep animals contained or on a leash until they are calm and adjusting well to their new environment.
- Plan to underfeed your pet slightly if traveling by car. This should be self-explanatory.
- Take them on a trip with you as a practice run. This will quickly reveal any oversights or unanticipated pitfalls in your preparations. Take notes and revamp your plans as necessary.