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Disaster Plan for Pets


Do you have a disaster plan for your pets? Although none of us like to think about it, natural disasters and everyday emergencies can strike at any minute. When disaster strikes, the same rules that apply to people apply to pets. Being prepared is the key.

If you haven’t already done so, take a few minutes and assemble an Emergency plan for your pets; after all they are your babies.

Here are a few ideas that may help you plan for an emergency. This list is not all-inclusive but hopefully will help you plan for an unplanned event.

1. Be sure you pet is wearing a collar with current identification at all times. If possible, make sure your pet is microchipped and keep that information current as well.

2. Put together a disaster bag. Items to include:

  • Food and water for at least five days for each pet, bowls and a manual can opener if you are packing canned pet food. People need at least one gallon of water per person per day. While your pet may not need that much, keep an extra gallon on hand to use if your pet has been exposed to chemicals or flood waters and needs to be rinsed.
  • Medications and current medical/vaccination records stored in a waterproof container and a first-aid kit. A pet first-aid book is also a good idea.
  • Cat litter box, litter, litter scoop and garbage bags to collect all your pets’ waste.
  • Sturdy leashes, harnesses and carriers to transport pets safely and to ensure that your pets can’t escape. Carriers should be familiar to your pet and large enough to allow your pet to stand comfortably, turn around and lie down. (Your pet may have to stay in the carrier for hours at a time.) Be sure to have a secure cage with no loose objects inside it to accommodate smaller pets —who may also need blankets or towels for bedding and warmth as well as special items, depending on their species. Bedding should also be familiar to your pet so that it can help reduce your pets stress levels.
  • Current photos of you with your pets and descriptions of your pets to help others identify them in case you and your pets become separated—and to prove that they are yours once you’re reunited.
  • Written information about your pets’ feeding schedules, medical conditions and behavior issues along with the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to board your pets or place them in foster care.
  • Keep a list of Pet-Friendly Hotels or Boarding Kennels in your immediate area in your pets disaster bag.

3. If you evacuate, take your pet.

4. If you stay home:

a. Identify a “safe area” of your home where you can all stay together. Make that safe area animal friendly.

  • Close off or eliminate unsafe nooks and crannies where frightened animals may try to hide.
  • Move dangerous items such as tools or toxic products that have been stored in the area.
  • Be sure to close your windows and doors, stay inside, and follow the instructions from your local emergency management office.

5. If you can’t get home to your pet:

  • Find a trusted neighbor, friend, or family member and give him or her a key to your house. Make sure this back-up caretaker is comfortable and familiar with your pets (and vice versa).
  • Make sure your back-up caretaker knows your pets’ whereabouts and habits.
  • Let your back-up caretaker know where your pets’ food is and where you normally feed them and keep their water bowl, and if they need any medication.

If you don’t have a plan for your family and your pets, “NOW” is the time to prepare.