June is National Pet Preparedness Month!
This is the perfect time to get your pets ready in case a disaster hits.
Unfortunately, many pets get separated from their families during disasters, which is why it is essential to plan for them when preparing for emergency situations.
Follow these pet preparedness tips from Ready.gov.
- Include your pets in your emergency plans
- Build a separate emergency kit for your pets
- Make sure to keep digital records and/or pictures to identify your pet after a disaster in case you become separated
- Create a list of places that accept pets if an emergency happens
When preparing your emergency plan:
- ID your pet. Make sure your pet's tags are up-to-date and securely fastened to your pet's collar. If possible, attach the address and/or phone number of your evacuation site. If your pet gets lost, his tag is his ticket home. Also consider microchipping your pets.
- Make sure to have a current photo of your pet for identification purposes.
- Make an emergency kit. You can find a full item list here.
- Identify shelters. For public health reasons, many emergency shelters cannot accept pets. Find out which motels and hotels in the area you plan to evacuate to allow pets well in advance of needing them. There are also a number of guides that list hotels/motels that permit pets and could serve as a starting point. Include your local animal shelter's number in your list of emergency numbers.
- Make sure you have a secure pet carrier, leash or harness for your pet so that if he panics, he can't escape.
During the disaster:
- Bring your pets inside immediately.
- Have newspapers on hand for sanitary purposes. Feed animals moist or canned food so they will need less water to drink.
- 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.
- Separate dogs and cats. Even if your dogs and cats normally get along, the anxiety of an emergency situation can cause pets to act irrationally. Keep small pets away from cats and dogs.
- In an emergency, you may have to take your birds with you. Talk with your veterinarian or local pet store about special food dispensers that regulate the amount of food a bird is given. Make sure that the bird is caged and the cage is covered by a thin cloth or sheet to provide security and filtered light.
- 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 are going to a public shelter, it is important to understand that animals may not be allowed inside. Plan in advance for shelter alternatives that will work for both you and your pets; consider loved ones or friends outside of your immediate area who would be willing to host you and your pets in an emergency.
- Make a back-up emergency plan in case you can't care for your animals yourself. Develop a buddy system with neighbors, friends, and relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so. Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to make it on your own for at least three days, maybe longer.
Caring for your pet after the disaster:
- If you leave town after a disaster, take your pets with you. Pets are unlikely to survive on their own.
- In the first few days after the disaster, leash your pets when they go outside. Always maintain close contact. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and your pet may become confused and lost. Also, snakes and other dangerous animals may be brought into the area with flood areas. Downed power lines are a hazard.
- The behavior of your pets may change after an emergency. Normally quiet and friendly pets may become aggressive or defensive. Watch animals closely. Leash dogs and place them in a fenced yard with access to shelter and water.
Tips for Large Animals.
If you have large animals such as horses, cattle, sheep, goats or pigs on your property, be sure to prepare before a disaster.
- Ensure all animals have some form of identification.
- Evacuate animals whenever possible. Map out primary and secondary routes in advance.
- Make available vehicles and trailers needed for transporting and supporting each type of animal. Also make available experienced handlers and drivers. Note: It is best to allow animals a chance to become accustomed to vehicular travel so they are less frightened and easier to move.
- Ensure destinations have food, water, veterinary care, and handling equipment.
- If evacuation is not possible, animal owners must decide whether to move large animals to shelter or turn them outside.
Head on over to Ready.Gov Pet and Emergency Planning page or the Humane Society's Disaster Preparedness Page for even more helpful tips!