With hurricane season well underway, it's important for those in hurricane-prone areas to review disaster plans for their families. And when your family includes pets, it's important to make sure that your disaster plans include them as well. If you don't have a disaster plan ready for your pets ahead of time, you may find yourself facing unexpected difficulty keeping them safe when a disaster happens. Take a look at some disaster plan tips for pet owners and make sure that your pets are protected during hurricanes and other disasters.
Know Where to Go
If you had to evacuate your house, where would you go? And would your pets be welcome there? Unfortunately, some emergency shelters can't accept pets (other than service animals) for a variety of health and safety reasons. And even if you're more likely to rely on family or friends than on emergency shelters, bringing your pet may not always be an option – for example, if a friend has an allergy to dogs, you probably wouldn't be able to stay there with yours.
Pet boarding facilities and veterinarians who board pets can be good options for your pet during a disaster. Animal shelters might also take in pets during an evacuation. Some hotels allow pets all the time, and others that don't allow pets may be willing to suspend a no-pet policy during an emergency situation. And of course, you may have friends or family that can take your pet or you and your pet together during a disaster. Make a list with the names and contact information for places that you could take your pet during a disaster so that it's easy to find when and if you need it.
Whatever you do, don't leave your pet behind. If you have to evacuate, so does your pet. Don't assume that your pet's instincts will kick in and keep them safe with you gone. A domesticated pet may not be able to rely on instinct to survive a disaster.
Organize Your Paperwork
If you have to place your pet into a shelter or boarding facility, you may need to show their vaccination records, so make sure that when you're preparing your disaster kit, you include that paperwork. Your pet's health records may also be needed in the event that your pet is injured during the disaster and needs medical treatment. Be sure that you also have the address and contact information for an emergency veterinary hospital in your area.
While you're taking care of paperwork, you should also make sure that your pet's tags are up to date and ready to go. If your pet's tag has your home phone number on it, consider making a second one with your cell phone number or an out-of-area number for a friend or relative who can contact you. That way, if you and your pet are separated, anyone who finds your pet will be able to locate you. This is also a good time to consider having your pet microchipped.
Disaster Supply Essentials
Finally, make sure that your disaster kit has food and other essentials for your pet. Ideally, you should have a home disaster kit, in case you're able to stay in your home but don't have power or clean water, and also a disaster kit that you can take with you if you do evacuate.
Your pet's disaster kit should contain several days' worth of food (be sure to include a can opener if you pack canned food) a supply of clean water in sealed, unbreakable containers, and an extra food and water dish. You should also have a pet carrier, an extra leash, and an extra collar. A first-aid kit is a must for both pets and humans. Make sure that it includes bandages, antiseptic, first aid cream, peroxide, scissors, and tweezers.
If your pet takes medication regularly, you'll need to make sure that you have a supply ready to go if you have to evacuate your home. Talk to your vet about how to properly store any medications – some may be sensitive to extreme temperatures or even need to be refrigerated.
Your pet depends on you to ensure its safety. Make sure that you're protecting your pet by including it in the disaster plans for your family. For more tips, talk to veterinarians at facilities like the Columbine Animal Hospital & Emergency Clinic.