Make a Disaster Plan for Your Pet
A recent international poll found 61 percent of pet owners would not evacuate during a disaster if they could not bring their pets with them. In 2006, Congress addressed this issue by passing the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act, which requires state and local emergency management agencies to make plans that take into account the needs of individuals with pets and service animals in the event of a major disaster or emergency.
Disasters can happen anywhere at any time. Natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes, can occur with little to no warning. Unexpected emergencies, such as fires, often leave families and pets separated without means of communication with each other. The Humane Society of the United States advocates all pet owners to plan ahead to care for their animals when disaster strikes.
How to Prepare for a Disaster
Put a Collar on Your Pet
Put a collar on each of your pets that clearly identifies your pet with his or her name and your contact information. Indoor-only pets should have collars as well.
Photograph Your Pet and Yourself
Take three pictures of you with each of your pets in a well-lit area. You should be able to see your pet’s entire body clearly. The three pictures should be two side-view shots and at least one clear picture of the pet’s face.
Establish a Meeting Area
Talk to your neighbors, family and friends about what they can do for your pets–and what you can do for their pet–if a disaster strikes. All parties should agree upon a location to meet in the event of an emergency. For pet-friendly places to meet, consult with your dog trainer or veterinary assistant.
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Create a list of hotels (or friends’ homes) that allow your pet(s) to stay with you in the event of an emergency.
Create an Emergency Kit
You should have one emergency preparedness kit for each pet.
A pet emergency kit should contain:
- A three-day supply of food and water stored in airtight containers
- A sturdy pet leash or harness (or a suitable carrier if you have a small dog)
- Extra feeding and watering bowls
- Current photos and a physical description of your pets, including identifying markings, microchips or tattoo numbers
- Any medications your pet may be taking, vaccination records and basic first aid supplies (ask your veterinary assistant for advice regarding basic first aid needs)
- Suitable bedding and comfort items (e.g. a special toy or blanket)
- Waste disposal bags
- Litter box with litter for cats
- Carrier large enough for a cat to use as a temporary apartment for several days
Each emergency kit should be kept in a place where it can be easily accessed. Do not leave pets unattended at any time while traveling in an evacuation situation as they may be experiencing fear and anxiety for which you–the pet owner–may be the only comfort for them.
What if a disaster requiring the evacuation of your pet occurs while you aren’t home? Make arrangements well in advance for a trusted neighbor, friend or veterinary assistant to collect your animals. This person should be familiar and comfortable with your pets, know where they are likely to be in your home, and know where their emergency kits are located. Discuss a specific location with your friend to meet after an evacuation.
If you own horses or other farm animals, you should contact your local humane organization, agricultural extension agent or local emergency management agency to provide you with information about your community’s large-animal disaster response plans.
Source: Humane Society of the United States
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