Disaster Tips to Keep Your Pets Safe

Take pictures of every animal in your household and keep these pictures with your important insurance papers and vaccination records too.  Be sure to show in the pictures any distinguishing marks.  These pictures can help reunite you with a lost pet.  Store the pictures in a zipper-style plastic bag.  Keep this in your disaster kit.  Keep extra zipper bags incase you need to post the pictures if your animal is lost.

Have at least a three-weeks supply of pet food and water on hand at all times for your pets.  Store the dry food in air tight, water proof containers.  If you use canned food, buy the flip top cans or have a can opener in your airtight disaster supply container.  Keep some of your pet’s favorite treats on hand.  They become stressed during a disaster too and a treat provides your pets some comfort.  Also keep a supply of cat litter for the cats in your household with a clean litter scoop, litter box liners and a clean litter box in your disaster kit.  Rotate the food periodically to keep the supply fresh.

Keep a collar and tag on your pets at all times.  That includes cats that never go outdoors.  In a disaster a pet can escape and collars and tags increase your chances of getting the animal back.  On the tag, include your phone number and address.  Also a friend or relative out of the area… Remember the phones may not be working.  So in order to reunite you with your pet, an address is necessary.  You may want to consider tattoos and microchips as a more permanent back-up form of ID

If your dog rides in the car, always have a leash in the vehicle.  A disaster may occur while you are away from home, and if you should have to abandon your car, you want to be able to keep your dog safely controlled.

If your pet is on a long term medication, always keep a back up supply on hand.  A vet may not be open fro some time following a disaster.  If the medication needs to be refrigerated, keep an ice chest on hand to store it in, if ice cannot be obtained from a store, check with the Red Cross.  Ask your regular vet if he/she has a disaster plan.  Your pet may need medical attention after a disaster and you need to know where to take your animal.  Knowing this in advance may save your animal’s life if it is in critical condition.  Keep a pet first aid kit in your disaster kit.  Preassembled kits can be bought at pet stores or ask your vet what to include in one.

 Have a cat carrier (an Eva sack is a wonderful option too) to evacuate each cat in your household.  If you have to confine the cat for a long period of time, have a carrier large enough to hold a shoe box size litter box, and dishes for water and food.  You must leave room for the cat to comfortably lie down.  Make sure the carrier is not left in the sun, and if it is warm, make sure the cat gets good ventilation.   If you take the cat out, do so in a confined space.  The cat may try to run away.

Have a chain leash for all the dogs in your household.  Walls and fences may come down during a disaster and it may be necessary to keep your dog confine on a chain leash until repairs can be made.  Be sure the chain is long enough for the dog to move around without getting tangled around something and possibly choking itself.  Shelter from the elements should be within the dog’s reach too.

If your dog is kept in an outdoor run, make sure it’s indoors for a hurricane or tornado, and for other disaster, in a location where falling debris shingles, power lines, chimney bricks, etc.) won’t fall on the run and possibly prevent opening the door, you should have a heavy duty wire cutters, in case the dog was trapped inside and had to be freed.  Make sure it will be able to swim and climb to a high spot in case of flooding.

If you pet is a bird, a reptile, a pocket pet or an exotic, the same principles apply ID appropriate to the species, supplies of food and water and proper confinement.  Do not turn any domestic animal out to fend for it self.  It cannot.  It is not equipped to do so and will suffer and or die.

Start a buddy system with someone in your neighborhood, so they will check on your animals during a disaster in case you are not home.  Agree to do the same thing for them.  Trade information on vets and put a permission slip in your file at the vets authorizing them to obtain emergency treatment for your pets in your absence and if you cannot be reached.  If someone watches your pets while you are on vacation, talk with them about a disaster plan to be used to evacuate your pets and care for them in your absence.

Be sure to comfort your pets during a disaster.  They are frightened too, and to have you near to give them a hug and attention will help.   If your pet is not ready to be comforted though, do not force it.  Let them come to you when they are ready.

Continue to feed your pets the foods they are used to and put it out as close to their normal time as you can.  If they eat canned food, reduce the normal amount by half and supplement with dry food to reduce the possibility of diarrhea.  Be sure to provide your pet with fresh water at all times.  Never let them drink flood waters or standing water in puddles.

Know where the animal shelters are in your area.  You may need to visit them after a disaster to look for a missing pet.

Get acquainted with your local disaster response teams.  Learn from them where they will most likely set up staging areas in the event of a disaster.  Volunteer to join.  Take their classes.  Some of them are free, and all are filled with useful knowledge and training and sometimes equipment.  Take responsibility.

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