Your pet is a part of your family, and preparation for an emergency is important. As a pet parent, it’s your responsibility to include your pet in your emergency and disaster plans. When making or revising your emergency and/or disaster plans, know where your pets are going and have anything they might need ready to go. For more details and a comprehensive list of emergency kit necessities, visit the CDC web site.
- Plan ahead. If you live in a disaster-prone area, learn what kinds of problems those disasters can present for both you and your pets. If your pets can’t go with you during an evacuation, don’t just leave them at home. Pets need a safe place to stay in an emergency, so find out where they can go ahead of time, and be prepared for the possibility of multiple pets being unable to stay in the same place. Remember: if it’s not safe for you, then it’s not safe for your pet.
- Create an emergency kit. You’ve made one for your family, but your pet needs one, too. Include food, water, bowls, medications, a litter tray/litter or disposable bags, extra leashes/harnesses, and toys that are easily transportable. Include veterinary information, medical records, and current pictures of your pet in a waterproof container.
- Stay up-to-date. Make sure the information on your pet’s collar, carrier, and in the disaster kit is current. If your pet is microchipped, ensure that information is up-to-date as well, in case your pet gets lost. Have your pet’s vaccinations updated often, and check clasps on collars regularly.
- Sheltering in place. Some emergencies require you to take shelter in your home, so establish ahead of time which room is the safest place for you, your family, and your pets to shelter in. The ideal room will have few or no windows and be free of anything that could be toxic to your pet. For small animals, make sure to block off any small spaces they could get stuck in.
- Returning after an emergency. Changes in routine can make pets irritable, defensive, or aggressive, so keep a close eye on your pet when establishing the new normal. Tell family and any visitors that your pet isn’t his or her usual self so your pet has less reason to lash out, and be aware that the disaster may have disoriented your pet by destroying or changing scent markers.
Pets often mean as much to us as the rest of the family, so make sure you’re including them in your plans, kits, and drills. The more comfortable they are with the routine in case of emergency, the easier it will be to ensure their safety along with your own. For special considerations for animals such as horses or birds, check out the ASPCA web site.