Pet Disaster Preparedness Day
May 12th is Pet Disaster Preparedness Day. In addition to making a disaster plan for you and your family, please consider making one for your pets. Many public shelters and Red Cross disaster shelters do not accept pets, so now is a good time to think of a plan in the event of an emergency evacuation. Remember if it is not safe enough for you to stay in your home it is not safe for your pets. Below are a few tips to get your emergency plan started.
Arrange for a safe haven and make an evacuation plan
- Ask friends/family members outside of your immediate area if they would be willing to provide temporary shelter for your pets. Ask a friend who lives near you to be your designated caregiver. If you were unable to get home in the event of an emergency, this person would go to your home, take your pets and keep them safe until you were able to be reunited with them.
- Look for pet friendly hotels/motels outside of your immediate area where you and your pets can stay.
- Ask your vet for a list of kennels/boarding facilities outside of your immediate area where your pets can stay if you are forced to evacuate.
- Contact your local animal shelter to see if they provide assistance during an emergency. Some shelters will arrange for foster care.
- Once you have decided where you and your pets will go in an emergency, decide how your family members will contact each other and who will be responsible for bringing your pets and their supplies.
Prepare an evacuation pack for your pets
This pack should be easy to carry and readily accessible. Make sure all members of your household know where it is kept. Listed below are items your pack should contain. It is a good idea to discuss other possible items with your vet.
- Pet 1st aid kit. Here's a good list of 1st aid supplies you should have for your pet.
- A week’s worth of your pet’s food (stored in a water-proof/air-tight container)
- A week’s worth of water
- Disposable litter trays and litter (if you have a cat or pet that uses a litter box)
- Food/water bowls
- An extra collar with ID tags and a leash
- A 2 week supply of any medication your pet takes (stored in a water-proof container)
- A crate or carrier
- A blanket and toys
- A recent photo of your pet
Some pets, such as birds, reptiles and small mammals require special evacuation plans.
Birds should be transported in their cage and covered with a sheet to keep them warm and to reduce any stress. Birds should wear ID bands on their legs. Purchase a timed feeder in advance for your bird. This will insure you pet is fed regularly in the event you cannot evacuate with it. Your bird’s evacuation pack should include a catch net, extra cage liner, a towel and a sheet.
Reptiles will need secure housing once you arrive at your destination. Lizards can be transported just like birds. Snakes can travel in a pillowcase. Your reptile’s evacuation pack should contain a bowl that is large enough for the animal to soak in and a heating pad or other warming device.
Small mammal should be transported in a secure carrier with food, water and bedding materials. Your small mammal’s evacuation pack should contain a hide box or tube, an extra water bottle and a week’s worth of extra bedding materials.
This is probably the most important thing you can do, after locating pet-friendly shelter for your pets. After last year’s hurricane and earthquake, any sort of emergency seems possible in the DC metropolitan area. It’s important for you to stay informed about any emergencies that could affect you and your pets. Bring your pets indoors at the first threat of inclement weather. Animals can easily become disorientated and stray from home in severe weather. Staying informed will enable you to follow the emergency guidelines put in place by the local, state and federal government. If you take the time now to develop an emergency plan for you and your pets, an emergency situation will be a little less stressful and reduce your worry!