We’ve all seen the terrible images of natural or man-made disasters on television, and many people have experienced them first hand. There are hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes, earthquakes, and floods. Occasionally there are hazardous material spills or other releases of toxic chemicals. Wherever you live, there is a chance that some catastrophic event may create the need for a quick evacuation for your family, including your pets.
Each year, on the second Saturday in May, Animal Disaster Preparedness Day gives pet guardians the opportunity to think about how they might ensure their pet’s safety in the event of a disaster. It is a gentle reminder that your pet relies on you for his safety. There are a number of simple things you can do to that will significantly increase the chances your pet will survive a disaster…unharmed.
Pet Rescue Buddy System
What if a disaster strikes when you are not at home? Who will rescue your pets? Talk with a neighbor about a pet rescue buddy system. Exchange house keys now, before disaster strikes. Program your cell phones so you each have the other’s numbers if needed. If an evacuation order comes quickly and you are unable to return for your pet, having a back-up plan will mean your pet makes it out safely.
Just as it is a good idea to pack a bag of essentials your family to grab in an emergency, the same is true for your pets. Gather leashes and pet carriers for safe transport of pets. Add to that a small supply of pet food, and any medications your pets might take. A disposable aluminum cooking pan and a small bag of litter are good to include if you have a cat. Adding a toy or blanket may provide comfort later, when your pet finds himself in a strange environment. Finally, put this small collection of items in once place, ready to grab in an emergency and easily available to your neighbor, who may need to evacuate your pet if you are not at home.
Disasters are full of chaos and things can go wrong, even with the best possible preparations. You may become separated from your pets for any number of reasons. Plan for this. Make sure your pet is always properly identified, even if you have a cat or other pet that stays indoors at all times. A collar with your current cell phone number is the best way to make sure he or she gets back to you. Even if your veterinarian has implanted a microchip identification product, your cell phone number on a pet’s collar may be the fastest way to reunite with your dog or cat.
While it is not pleasant to think about harm possibly coming to your pet in a natural disaster, with advance planning and preparation, you can do a great deal to prevent it. Remember, pets count on their humans to care for them, in good times and in bad. Taking an hour to prepare now means you and your pet will be ready to weather any storm and still be together when the sun shines again.
What else would you do to prepare for your pet's safety in a disaster?