Pet Plans: Emergency and disaster planning for your pet

Do you have a disaster plan for your pet? You can never really be prepared for a storm like the one that hit Oklahoma yesterday. However, emergency and disaster planning for your family and for your pet (or pets) can keep the family together.

As part of your emergency and disaster planning, you need a plan for your pet.

As part of your emergency and disaster planning, you need a plan for your pet.

As more pets become part of the family, the big disaster stories hit home in a new way – losing a family pet. During a quick evacuation – or even one more planned out – some pets are left behind and others get separated from their families. When tornados just sweep out of nowhere, it’s hard to be ready.

If you map out your pet plans for disaster preparedness beforehand, the chances are better that you’ll be able to stick with your pet or be reunited if separated. Here are some steps you can take now for emergency and disaster planning for your pet.

The ASPCA and other organizations have stickers for your windows that will let rescue workers know how many pets are in your home

The ASPCA and other organizations have stickers for your windows that will let rescue workers know how many pets are in your home

Get a rescue alert – These are the emergency stickers for your pet that you place in your windows listing the number and types of pets in the home. Some now enable you to add photos of your pets. These stickers are important to a disaster plan because they help rescuers know what pets may be inside if your home is damaged or destroyed. If you evacuate your pet, mark that on the sticker as you leave so rescuers will know.

ID your pet – It’s hard to be reunited with your pet if he or she has no identification. A big part of your emergency pet plan is to make sure your pet is microchipped. Verify with the company that your information is up to date with your home and cell number along with an alternate contact – like your vet or someone out of the same area (in case of tornado or hurricane).

Also, make sure your pet has a collar and tag with updated information. Make sure you affix the tag as you get ready to evacuate.

A secure carrier is part of a good disaster plan for your pet.

A secure carrier is part of a good disaster plan for your pet.

Make a pet plan – Don’t leave your pet behind. They could become trapped in the rubble or escape your home to a worse fate. Before you face an emergency, make a pet plan by finding out what local hotels accept pets (and what kind of pets) and also get a list of vets, kennels and other places where you may be able to board your dog or cat.

When focusing on emergency and disaster planning for your pet, it helps to have a list of friends who may be able to at least take in your pets in the case of an emergency. Since a tornado or hurricane could wipe out your whole community, also make a list of options out of your area.

If your pet has proper ID, it is easier to be reunited if they must be rescued.

If your pet has proper ID, it is easier to be reunited if they must be rescued.

Make sure you have different plans for different scenarios since some events – fire, floods, hurricanes – require you to leave and others – tornados – require you to take cover. Remember in the case of evacuations, its best to leave as early as possible before emergency options are limited.

Emergency shelter – An important part of any emergency and disaster planning is to check with your community to find out where emergency shelters are located. You should also find out in advance which ones will allow you to include your pet if you must stay there. Since many don’t allow pets, knowing kennel and boarding options for your pet are very important.

Put together a disaster kit – Another key component of emergency and disaster planning for your pet includes putting together a disaster kit. This should include the following –

A good pet plan includes a disaster kit with their food, medications and other key items.

A good pet plan includes a disaster kit with their food, medications and other key items.

  • Five to seven days of food and a week’s worth of fresh water;
  • Medical records, prescriptions and other vital information in a water-tight container;
  • Pet first aide kit;
  • Cat litter, litter box and garbage bags to dispose of waste;
  • Sturdy leashes, harnesses and carriers to transport your pet safely and to keep your pet with you. Blankets or towels for bedding.
  • Current photos and descriptions of your pet in case you need to make signs. Save digital copies on social media or elsewhere so that you can access them if you lose everything.
  • Familiar items like toys and bedding.
  • Instructions for the care of your pet in case you must board them.

Adding pet specific apps in advance can help as well.

Adding pet specific apps in advance can help as well.

Load up apps in advance – There are a lot of apps available that lead you to pet-friendly accommodations (Dog-friendly app, Pet-Friendly Hotels, Fido Factor) and allow you to track your pets medical records (My Vet Records) and provides emergency info (Pet Poison Help). Others like Petspotter also allow you to post photos of lost and found pets to social media.

Check them out before you need them. Also keep in mind, that in a tornado or hurricane, you may not have cell service and may not be able to access this information. The ASPCA, Humane Society of the United States, Red Cross and Petfinder all have additional tips online.

Having a disaster plan ready for your pet was necessary for a lot of families when floods hit Chicago in April. Friends of mine who live near the Des Plaines River got their evacuation orders in the middle of the night. They loaded up their five cats and three dogs, connected with a good friend and moved to safety. Although it was a bit harrowing, my friends’ emergency and disaster plan kept them all safe.

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    Raining Cats and Dogs

    I am a crazy cat lady and puppy mill warrior that blogs to advocate and educate about pet issues. In American animal controls, millions of pets are abandoned each year and an estimated 4 million die just because there are not enough homes. It truly seems like it’s Raining Cats & Dogs.

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