We’ve seen some pretty big disasters occur in the past few months that really got me to thinking.  What would I do with my pets in an emergency situation?  How prepared am I to take care of them in a disaster?  This is one of those things we don’t like to think about much, but if we have a really good plan in place, we can avoid some of the heartache we’ve witnessed recently.

Identification

First and foremost, your pets should be wearing identification tags, and preferably be microchipped.  Should something happen where they are separated from you, it will be much easier to be reunited.

Your home should have a rescue alert sticker on it.  This will help emergency rescue crews know that there are pets inside.  This should include the number of pets, the types of pets, as well as your name and phone number of your veterinarian.  Should you evacuate with your pets (and you safely have time), be sure to note on the sticker that you have taken your pets with you.

Safe Place

Ensure that you have a pre-established safe place for your pets to go should you need to evacuate.  Many shelters do not allow for pets, so you’ll want to have this figured out before you get there.  Do not leave your pet behind.  If it’s not safe for you, it’s not safe for your pets.

  • Ask friends and relatives that are not in your immediate area if they would be willing to take your pet during an emergency.
  • Check with local boarding kennels and facilities.
  • Ask your veterinarian for recommendations.
  • Find out if hotels that are not in your immediate area accept pets.  Keep this list updated as policies change.

Emergency Travel Kit

Have an emergency kit ready to go.  Your kit should include:

  • A checklist of all items you need
  • Pet first aid kit
  • 7 day’s worth of food for each pet.  Canned is great because it has a longer shelf life (just watch the dates and rotate it as necessary).  If you keep dry food in your kit, just be sure to rotate it every couple of months so it doesn’t go bad sitting in a closet.
  • 7 day’s worth of bottled water for each pet (be sure to rotate water for freshness)
  • Food and water bowls (the collapsible travel bowls are great for this)
  • Something to use as a litter box (aluminum pans work) and litter
  • Liquid anti-bacterial soap
  • Disposable bags for poo-pick up
  • Extra leash and harness
  • 2 week’s worth of medication your pet requires (again, rotate this so they don’t go bad)
  • Photocopies of medical records
  • If possible, a crate or travel carrier
  • Towels and blankets
  • Recent photos of your pets (this will allow you to make “lost pet” flyers, if needed)
  • A couple of toys and treats to help comfort your pets during this time

Be sure to have a “human emergency kit” as well.

Fostering

Give careful thought to this one.  You should have a temporary foster, someone who can help you care for your pets for a short time while you focus on getting through the emergency situation. You should also have a permanent foster, someone who will take care of your pets should something happen to you.  These may very well be the same person.  Just be sure to have discussions with them regarding your expectations, and be sure you are both in agreement.

I had a high school English teacher who always said “Prior preparation prevents poor performance.”  In this case, it can prevent stress and heartache too.