May 8th is National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day
Emergencies can vary from natural disasters to personal tragedies. Some may require a brief absence from your home, while others could potentially result in a permanent evacuation. As adults, we probably know what we would do for our families and ourselves in case of emergency, but do you have a plan for your pet? The first step in creating a safety plan for your pet is to setup a safe haven for them should disaster strike. If you are forced to leave your home unexpectedly and take them with you, all Red Cross disaster shelters accept pets. However, it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan, so calling friends/families, nearby animal shelters and local hotels/motels to see if they’d be willing to take your pet in case of emergency is a good proactive measure. If a friend or family member is willing to be your pet’s emergency caregiver, make sure they have a key to your home so they are able to reach your pet should you be incapable of doing so yourself. The second (and maybe easiest) is to get a rescue alert sticker. This alerts rescue workers that you have a pet (or multiple pets) inside your home (should you not be able to take them with you or if you’re not home when the disaster occurs). Make sure you display it in a visible area, such as the front door window, and that you include how many and what types of pets are inside. Your veterinarian’s name and contact information should also be on the sticker. If you are able to escape from your home with your pets, it’s helpful if you are able to write “EVACUATED” on the sticker so rescue workers won’t waste precious time looking for pets who are already safe. Step three: make sure you have an Evac-Pack and supplies handy for your pet(s). Some items that are essential include a pet first-aid kit and guidebook, food, disposable litter trays, litter or paper toweling, liquid dish soap and disinfectant, disposable garbage bags, pet food dishes, extra collar/harness and leash, copies of pet medical records, bottled water, flashlight, photos of your pet (in case you get separated) as well as toys (to burn off that extra energy, especially if you’re seeking shelter in a small area). A few things to remember: bring pets indoors at the first sign of disaster. They tend to get confused and disoriented and wander away from home during emergencies. Make sure that you are planning according to what kind of geographic and climate location you are living in. Some areas may be prone to disasters that require evacuation while others require holing up inside your home. Either way, having a personal plan for your family and pets is the best way to ensure that everyone is safe.