Content for Cities: Emergency Planning for Pet Parents

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Plan Ahead to Keep Pets Safe in an Emergency

It’s the time of year to prepare your home and family for weather emergencies and natural disasters. As you do, remember to include planning for your pet! June is National Pet Preparedness Month, and we’ve gathered some tips to help.

1. Be ready before a disaster strikes.

When pets are microchipped, they are much more likely to be reunited with their owners if they get lost. So, don’t wait for a rainy day (literally!). Make sure your pets are microchipped and that the information on the chip registry is up to date.

2. Have a family disaster preparedness and evacuation plan.

Include your whole family in your plan – even the four-legged family members. Make sure everyone knows their role. For example, who gets the pets? Who grabs the pet emergency kits? This brochure (PDF) from Mars Petcare provides tips to help you plan for your pets.

3. Make sure each pet has their own items for safe transport.

Have a carrier or crate for each of your pets, and mark it with their name, your name and your contact information. Familiarize them with it ahead of time, so they won’t resist going inside in case of an emergency. Also have a leash ready for each pet, to keep them from running away in a chaotic situation. Pets should always wear collars so they’re leash-ready when needed.

4. Have a pet emergency kit ready to go.

Your kit should include at least a week’s supply of food and water, any medication your pet may need, and hygiene items like dog waste bags or cat litter. You may also want to have a favorite toy, treats and familiar bedding. Make a list of items to add at the last minute, such as food bowls and your can opener. This brochure (PDF) provides tips for your “pet go kit.”

5. Be ready with health records and information.

Keep key pet health documents like vaccine history, rabies certificate, prescriptions, and information about any illnesses or allergies in a waterproof container where you can easily access them in an emergency. Program your veterinarian’s contact information into your phone and keep a print copy too, in case your phone loses power.

6. Know your pets’ favorite hiding places.

When bad weather is brewing, pets may be scared. Bring them inside so you won’t need to search for them if things get worse. Be sure you know where pets typically hide inside the house – for example in a favorite closet or under the bed – so you can find them quickly if you need to evacuate.

7. Have a list of local boarding options for emergencies. 

If weather damage is bad enough, you may have to leave your home for a time while repairs are made. Keep in mind that some shelters don’t accept pets. Those that do will likely require collars and rabies tags along with your vaccination records. Plan ahead with a list of local boarding facilities and hotels that take pets, as well as friends and family who might be able to help in case of emergency.

8. Make disaster preparedness plans for when you’re not at home, too.

Don’t let furry friends ride out a storm alone, and never leave pets chained up in the yard. The site suggests a buddy system for emergency pet care. Have a neighbor or relative who will check on your pets or provide shelter if you’re not close by when a disaster looms. You can do the same for them.

If you’re traveling, have detailed plans with your pet-sitter for how to handle emergencies. Also, make sure you also have pet alert cards to let emergency responders know about your pets in non-weather emergencies.

9. After a weather emergency, watch pets carefully.

Don’t let pets roam around your yard or neighborhood after a weather emergency. There could be debris, electrical lines down or other dangers. Familiar landmarks might be gone, leading to a pet getting disoriented or lost. Plus, your pet may still be anxious from the experience of weathering the storm. Keep pets safe by monitoring them carefully and keeping them leashed while outdoors.

No one wants to think that their home or family will ever be threatened by a natural disaster, but having a plan can help keep you safe. Here are additional resources to help:

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