Read Our Staff’s Disaster Preparedness Plans
In thinking of disaster preparedness, we all are pet owners just like you. As staff of a veterinary hospital, we feel we can’t just “talk the talk,” we need to be able to “walk the walk.” We’ve asked our staff about their own disaster plans in case of fire, flood or tornado, and wanted to share a few of them with you. We also have more information on making your own pet disaster preparedness plan.
Lori Cherney, DVM
For our emergency plans, we have quite the crew to consider. We have 3 dogs, 3 birds and a Bearded Dragon. We also have 3 kids (2 are teenagers) so they are old enough to be “in charge” of some animals in an emergency. The Bearded Dragon has a tank in our oldest son’s room. If we have to move quickly, the Beardie will just go in his shirt. We do have a small travel carrier near the tank if we have time. Our teenage son is in charge of the Beardie.
For the dogs, they do each have their own crate, but in a pinch they can get cozy in one carrier. Any of us can work with the dogs to get them downstairs or outside (on leash or carrier). They are used to noise and chaos so the sound of the fire alarm/sirens shouldn’t be too upsetting to them.
The birds are the hardest. Two of them are ring-necked doves and are very gentle. Anyone can grab them and put into a carrier. We also have an Amazon Parrot that only I can handle. In an emergency, I would have to be the one to get him out of his cage and into a carrier. I try not to think about the “what ifs” in his case. As for long term shelter if something happened to our home, we have many family members living locally and one of their places we assume would still be standing. I also do have the hospital as an option. These are hard things to think about, but important to do for everyone’s safety–pets and people alike.
Sandy, Front Office
I hadn’t really given any thought about what to do “in case of….” With all the bad weather lately, I’ve really started to think about what I would do and the specifics. I have 4 dogs (3 Old English Sheep Dogs and 1 Beagle). When I’m not home my dogs are in kennels in our basement. It’s the safest room with no window. Lucky for me if I open the basement door they run right down. In a tornado situation, I feel it would be easy to get them to safety.
In a fire, it will be harder to corral them. All the dogs sleep with us so I put leashes in our room as well as our car and main level of the house and basement. I did this for convenience in case I’m home alone with all 4. I will have to move 4 dogs quickly and easily, AND by myself.
One final step, I am going to have all 4 dogs microchipped and the numbers registered. I will be making a laminated card for each dog with picture, name, my phone number, our vet info (Den Herders!) and vaccine records. I have copies for my purse, car and maybe at my daughter’s house. I’ve been thinking about keeping a spare water bowl in my car as well. I have a lot more to think about, but my plan is started.
Jackie, Front Office
In case of fire, my most troubling concern is my dog Roxy’s reaction to the smoke alarm. If she hears it, she dashes to the basement to hide and shake. My first priority will be to train her to come to us and go outside when she hears it. I do have a note card posted on one of my windows alerting firefighters and emergency responders that there are pets in my house, in case I am not at home.
The next thing is that I have easy access to the pet kennels. I know that my pets will act differently in a scary situation and may be hard to handle. I don’t want to either lose them or get bitten while trying to transport them to safety. I have a kennel in the bedroom, one in the basement, two in the garage and one in the car. That way, if I can’t get to one of them, I may be able to gain access to another. (I just happen to have a lot of pet kennels; I used to have more pets). My pets are small enough that they could share one pet taxi, if necessary.
Some other things related to my emergency plan, I have a pet first aid kit that I will put in the basement bathroom, which is the safest place to go in our house during a tornado. I have an extra leash and collapsible water bowl in the car. I will print a copy of the pets’ current vaccinations to keep in the glove box in case we need to evacuate or stay in a shelter or hotel.
I do have my dog microchipped and intend to microchip our cat soon. That way, if they were to be separated from us, they can still be returned to us.
Kirsten, Back Office
My first priority was to get our cats microchipped should they get out (whether it be our young boys leaving the door open or from a natural disaster). Second priority is to have carriers handy for each of them should we have to leave quickly or keep them confined in a tornado. Third priority is to have food, water and litter boxes for them if we are out of the house for an extended period of time. Should something happen to our house, my “Plan B” is leaving them at the vet hospital.
I typically have the carriers buried in the garage, but for our emergency planning I have relocated them to be right the door going to the garage. (A side note on one of our new cats and her carrier: As we were slowly socializing the new cats, we left a carrier out in our bedroom. Over time, she has grown quite fond of the carrier and sleeps in it daily (probably to get away from our 3 loud boys). If any of you have carrier-phobic cats, if your house affords the space, try leaving a carrier out. Over time they may get used to it. You can offer them food and water near it as well to get them to adjust.)
Inside the carriers, I have a small cardboard box lid (to use as a temporary litter box) and a baggie with kitty litter (not a lot, just enough to get them by). I have plastic bags for disposal needs. I have a bottle of water, and two old plastic containers for food and water. I need to remember to rotate the food so it doesn’t go to waste and would actually be edible should we need to use it. (My intent is to start to switch out the food spring and fall with daylight savings time–I have it on the calendar at least!).
I have one towel, but should include another (to cover the carrier). I also have a Ziploc bag with their pictures, vaccination history, microchip info and the number to Home Again (microchip company). What I will have trouble remembering is to switch out their vaccination history each year. Fortunately, I work at a vet clinic and have easy access to this info.