Prior to 2005, not much official consideration had been given to the needs of pets in a disaster situation. But when more than 150,000 pets perished in Hurricane Katrina, largely as a result of there being no provisions for the rescue of animals, this critical concern was brought to national awareness. In addition to legal measures being passed to protect the rights of animals to be rescued by officials in disasters, National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day #NationalAnimalDisasterPreparednessDay was established to help educate the public on the needs of animals in these situations.
Your pets are a part of your family, and just like any other family member, planning and preparation for unexpected situations is important. Here are some ways you can prepare to care for your pet in a disaster:
While you can’t predict every potential problem, it is important to know what the most likely dangers are for your geographic area, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, etc.
Know what the local disaster evacuation plans and routes are for your area.
Find Safe Havens
Never leave your pet behind if you have to evacuate, as they will be unable to fend for themselves in a disaster situation. However,
It is important to have a Rescue Alert Sticker on your windows to alert rescuers to the presence of your pets, in the event that you were separated at the time of evacuation. If you evacuate with your pets, and there is time, write “Evacuated” on the stickers to let rescuers know that you are all out.
Some evacuation shelters do not accept pets, so it is very important to research where your pet could board in a disaster.
Know which hotels in the area would accept you and your pets together in a disaster.
Designate a trusted friend, neighbor or family member that can come into your home and help your pets if you are away in a disaster.
Pack an Emergency Kit
Make or purchase a first aid kit for your pet. If you make your own, ask your vet for advice on what to include for your pet to meet their individual needs.
Keep a 7 day supply of food (both canned and dry) and water for your pet in waterproof and airtight containers that are easy to transport. Rotate these every two months.
Make sure your pet’s tags are up to date and secure to their collar, and consider microchipping. It is also a good idea to include a recent photo of you with your pet for visual identification in case of separation.
Include a copy of recent health and immunization records in a sealed plastic bag.
Pack an extra leash and collar, along with their carrier. Dogs will need crate liners, and cats will need a disposable litter tray and a supply of cat litter.
Pack a few comfort items – blankets, a couple of toys.
Add to this list anything that is individual for your own situation, as you best know your own pets and their personal needs. For more information on how to keep your furry family members safe in a disaster, please see these helpful articles on the ASPCA and the Red Cross websites.