Diane Blum

Freelance Writer

"Disaster Preparation for Your Pets"
posted on Third Age
Your pet may panic and run In the event of a natural disaster, a fire, or someone breaking into your home and leaving a door or window open. The best way to ensure your pet’s safe return is for it to be wearing a secure ID tag and collar. Microchipping your pet is also important in case the collar gets lost or removed. Microchipping costs about $45, but there are low-cost clinics available. Be sure the microchip cost includes registration in a pet recovery database.
Have a pet evacuation plan
Most emergency shelters are meant for people and do not accept pets, even in carriers. It is a good idea to do research and find places that will take pets in an emergency, such as motels, boarding facilities or out-of-town friends.
Include your pet’s evacuation as part of family emergency drills, which you should hold at least once a year. Know who is going to be responsible for finding the pet in what will likely be its favorite hiding spot. Have your pet’s carrier and evacuation kit ready for use. Practice will make you feel more in control in a real emergency. It is important to keep calm around your pets or they may be difficult to catch.
You might need to ask a neighbor to evacuate your pet if you aren’t there. Arrange to have a nearby neighbor be youremergency backup. Give that person your house key and ensure they know where your pet’s carrier and evacuation kit are kept. Have a sticker at your front door with contact information for you and your backup indicating you have pets inside so that the fire department can try to save them in case of fire.
If you must leave your pet at home, find a safe place. Leave dry food and as much access to water as possible -- perhaps a slowly dripping sink -- along with newspapers or litter boxes. This should be viewed as a last resort measure. Leave notice on the front door that animals have been left and a phone number where you and out-of-town contacts can be reached.
Make a pet evacuation kit
For every pet, you will need a carrier with bedding. Make sure the pet can comfortably turn around in it. For dogs, leave a leash in the carrier. In a separate backpack, have your pet evacuation kit supplies. You should have food and bottled water for at least one week, with a manual can opener if required. Have prescription meds pre-packed if possible. You will need bowls, a lot of plastic bags for waste, paper towels, sanitation wipes and disinfectant, and waste-removal/litter box supplies. For cats, fill up several poop bags with cat litter and tie the bags off; have an aluminum tray or a few fold-up shirt boxes to use as litter boxes. You can dump one poop bag of litter in the box, and use the same poop bag for waste clean-up using a scoop. Other helpful items are familiar toys, treats ,and a pet first aid book. also note, your family’s first aid supplies should cover basic pet injuries. For nervous animals, a sheet to place over the carrier can also afford some privacy and calm.
You need to do regular maintenance for the kit in the same way that you do with your family’s emergency water, food, and medication, rotating it out every few months. Don’t forget to plan for birds, reptiles, and animals other than cats and dogs. Information can be found on many animal rescue websites.
Prepare vital pet documentation
Have emergency information for each pet available separately so that the information can remain with that pet’s carrier. Put the information sheet in plastic to protect it. Include the pet’s name, emergency contact, out-of-area contact, neighbor/backup contact, vet’s info, animal’s microchip #, license #, medical info including any known problems, record of shots record including rabies tag # and date, as well as a description and the age of your pet along with a photo. Include any prescription information. Make sure your emergency backup and out of town relatives have a copy of all of your pet’s records in case your pet is separated from its carrier and/or you.
Help elderly neighbors
If you have elderly or disabled neighbors or relatives, help them prepare a pet evacuation kit and evacuation plan as well. Many elderly people living alone have more than one pet, so ensure that they are prepared to evacuate all of their furry family.
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