Disaster Planning For Pets

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When disaster strikes, the same rules apply to people and pets.  There is equal devastation to people and pets in a disaster but planning and preparation can make all the difference.  By having an emergency plan in place for both you and your pets, you increase the chance of surviving a natural disaster or man-made catastrophe. 

Natural disasters include fires, tornadoes, floods, hurricanes and earthquakes while man-made disasters include toxic chemical spills, oil leaks, pollution and other bio-hazards.  There is typically little advanced warning of these dangers resulting in quick evacuations of homes and entire communities.  The intent is to get people and pets out of harm's way and if you are prepared, the evacuation can go a lot smoother. 

In response to the unprecedented flooding recently experienced through southern Alberta, emergency response is certainly top of mind.  Where to start?

Plan

  1. Give some consideration to safe haven areas in your home.  Determine which rooms would be appropriate should you need to take shelter.   As an example, if you are taking shelter from a tornado, your safe haven room should be clear of hazards such as windows, flying debris and should be structurally strong.  As another example, if you are taking shelter from a flood, ensure you are in a high location. 
  2. Ensure that you have a rescue alert sticker in a visible spot in your home.  This sticker will alert rescue workers that you have pets in your home.  Include 1) the types and number of pets in your household; 2) your veterinarian's name and 3) your veterinarian's contact number. 
  3. Ensure that your pets have up to date ID securely fastened to their collars and that their collars are on your pets.  In the event that your dog gets lost, this is often the quickest way for your dog to find his/her way back to you.
  4. Ensure that your pet is microchipped.  This permanent form of ID will be checked should your dog be found by animal control or a veterinarian. 
  5. Develop an emergency phone list that includes local numbers for policy, fire, animal control, friends and family.  An emergency situation is not the time to be fumbling for phone numbers as that will increase your stress level. 
  6. Do your research in the event of an evacuation.  Not all disaster shelters will accept pets, so it is up to you to determine some alternatives.  Identify some temporary housing options for your pets (veterinarians, boarding kennels, doggie day cares, grooming facilities, animal shelters, animal rescue groups) and develop a contact list.  Your contact list needs to include options far enough away from your home as to be out of harm's way. 

Prepare

  1. Assemble an emergency kit for the humans in your household
  • Copies of medical insurance information
  • Extra medication
  • Extra cash
  • Emergency contact list
  • Drinking water to last 3-7 days
  • Flashlight
  • Radio
  • Batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Paper, pens, permanent marker, tape
  • Blanket
  • Change of clothes
  1. Assemble an evac pack for your pets
  • Copies of medical information and recent photos of your pet
  • Extra medication
  • 3-7 days worth of food and feeding dishes
  • Drinking water to last 3-7 days
  • Extra collar, harness, leash, crate or sturdy carrier
  • Disposable garbage bags for clean-up
  • Blanket (to scoop up a fearful pet)

Keep both the emergency kit and the evac pack in a handy location with a clear label and ensure that everyone in your family knows the location. 

Practice

The hope is that you will never need to use your disaster plan, but to know that it works, give it a dry run.  Children practice fire and other drills in school, you should practice your emergency plan at home in much the same way.  You want to be able to fine tune it when time isn't of the essence and stress levels are not at their max. 

If it is not safe for you, it will not be safe for your pets, so please do not evacuate without them.  If you are responsible for other types of animals (feral cats, horses, farm animals) consider your plan for them as well. 

With a good pet disaster plan, the right preparation and a little practice you will be much better able to handle the unexpected, no matter what type of disaster comes your way. 

Written by hart at 00:00
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