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How to Include Your Pet in Your Disaster Preparedness Plan

Wed, 23 May 2018 by Linda Rosado

Preparing for Our Furry Friends in Times of Disaster 

It’s hard to imagine the unthinkable, but with an increase in natural disasters the unthinkable could become reality. The National Centers for Environmental Information’s (NOAA) overview of 2017 reported 16 separate billion-dollar weather and climate disasters. The 1980-2017 annual average of events is 5.8 whereas the annual average for the most recent 5 years is 11.6 events.

Not only are people’s lives in jeopardy, pet lives could be as well. Natural disasters are just as dangerous to pets as they are to their owners. In honor of National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day on May 8th, here are some tips to ensure the safety of your furry friends during a crisis event.

Have an Emergency Kit Ready

It’s common to have a family emergency kit in your household, but does that kit include supplies for your pets? Pet emergency kits should include everything needed to care for your pet for at least one week. Some things to include in your pet emergency kit are:

  • A weeks’ worth of sealed food and water for each pet
  • Two weeks’ worth of any medication your pet is on
  • Up-to-date pet medical records and ID tags
  • A pet first aid kit, including gauze, nonstick bandages, adhesive tape, towels, hydrogen peroxide and gloves
  • A spare leash and collar
  • Sanitation items such as pet litter or pet waste disposal bags
  • Cleaning supplies for any accidents
  • Familiar items such as treats, toys and beds to comfort your pet
  • A current list of pet friendly shelters and hotels
  • A current photo of you and your pet in case you get separated

Know Where to Go

Don’t wait until an emergency is imminent. Look up local evacuation routes and pet friendly shelters and hotels in advance and include a current list in your pet emergency kit for easy access. Not all emergency shelters allow pets so it’s important to find safe housing for your pet before a crisis occurs.

Leaving your pet at home is never a good option. If it is too dangerous for you to stay, it’s definitely too dangerous for your pet. It’s important to heed evacuation orders. Do not stay behind with your pet, rather make a plan ahead of time and know where to go with your pet where you will all be safe.

After Hurricane Katrina, legislation was passed to require local and state authorities to include pets in disaster plans if they want federal emergency grants. Now more than 30 U.S. states have laws about pets and disaster preparedness. Even though these laws are in place, not all evacuation centers accept pets. Some will have a separate area or an off-site location to house pets.

Stay Informed

Each region of the U.S. experiences different natural disasters like hurricanes, tornados and wildfires. Stay informed of which natural disasters affect your state and when they are most likely to occur. For example, hurricane season is June to November, tornado season March to June and wildfire season spring through fall. Being mindful of which extreme event can occur will allow you to better prepare.

During times when a natural disaster is more likely to occur, it’s important to stay up to date on any new emergency event progressions. This will give you time to stock up on essentials and double check that your pet emergency kit is up to date and ready to go.

Pets that are left behind during a disaster can get hurt or lost so it’s important to plan ahead and be aware if the situation becomes too dangerous to stay put. Pets are family too and by having a disaster plan set for your pet, you can ensure their safety and your own.

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