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2005 left the city of New Orleans in ruins after the destructive power of Hurrican Katrina forced many of the residents to flee for safety and leave their homes and their pets behind. Countless animals were left stranded in locked closets, under debris, and clinging on to life by any means; many of them never saw their owners and families ever again. Natural disasters are inevitable but it is never too early to get prepared or have an escape plan in place to help your family and your pet get to safety. However, depending on the disaster, you may be forced to leave your pets behind for a brief period of time or even long term to secure your own safety. In either situation, preparation is vital to you staying connected or being reconnected to your pet. Here are some tips to consider when developing your emergency preparedness plan.

Geography Matters

It is very important to know if where you live is prone to heavy flooding, tornados, hurricane warnings, and earthquake warnings, to know how to plan accordingly. You want to make sure that you have access to fresh water and fill up your tubs and sinks in the chance that the electricity goes out because of the storm. Sandbags and window protectors are important to have stocked to avoid having glass or large objects cause damage to your home and potentially trap you and your animal inside the house.

Making A Disaster Kit

Remember back in elementary school when you would go the nurse because you cut your hand or sprained your ankle, and the nurse had that magical emergency preparedness kit that had all the right tools for your aches and bruises? Well, your animal needs one as well. A well-stocked, prepared animal disaster kit should include the following:

  • An extra collar/tag that includes your dog’s name, your  up-to-date address and phone number, and any pertinent information
  • 1-2 weeks worth of canned pet food
  • Pet first aid kit
  • Pet cleaning supplies, disinfectant
  • Flashlight
  • Blanket
  • At least a weeks worth of water for your animal
  • Recent photos of your pet
  • Water bowl
  • Toys
  • Cage/cage liners

You also need to have an emergency kit for you and your family that should at least include: identification for each person, food, water, batteries, blankets, flashlights, important medical information, cash, extra clothing, and important medical and insurance information.

Rescue Identification

You may recall in a previous blog, we mentioned how important it is to have your dog microchipped. In the event that you become disconnected from them during an evacuation, a microchip is the best form of identification to reconnect you with your pet. Aside from microchipping, having a collar and a carrier that is up to date with all of your and your pets’ identification is also very important for rescuing.

Another huge investment that pet owners should have is a pet rescue alert sticker. These stickers, placed outside of homes or buildings, can let rescuers know that you have evacuated your home but that you have left your pets behind and they need to be rescued. If you write “EVACUATED” this will also help rescuers know that you and your animals have safely evacuated the home and they can give their time and resources to rescuing another family or animal. These stickers can either be ordered through the ASPCA or any local pet store.

Making Arrangements

Having to leave your animals behind should be your very last option at all costs. If the environment is not safe enough for you to stay, it isn’t safe enough for your pet to stay either. We do understand that an owner does not always have the means to have their animal travel with them. In this case, we suggest either having a neighbor or family member assigned to watching your animal or have some arrangements previously made with your local shelter or boarding facility. If your shelter cannot accept your pet, ask your veterinarian for any suggestions for kennels or dog sitters. Ultimately, we recommend no pet is left behind. It’s best to call around to see if any hotels are animal-friendly. In the case of an evacuation, most hotels are required to accommodate your furry family members.

We know that your pet’s safety is very dear to you. Don’t wait until it’s too late, the emergency disaster plan you prepare today can save you and your animals’ life in the future.