Disaster Preparedness: What About Your Pet?
Living in the Midwest, we know all too well that natural disasters can strike quickly and with little warning. Get to the basement. Get out of the house. Get to higher ground.
But, what would we do with our pets?
Think about that for a minute. What would you do with your pets in a tornado? A flood? A fire?
There are no “right” answers. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all plan. We can offer some suggestions to get you thinking and talking with your family. We have compiled a list of resources that will help you dig a little deeper.
Taking 15 minutes right now could save a lifetime of regret later on.
What Do You Need to Keep Your Pet Safe?
Do you have carriers and leashes easily accessible? For small dogs and cats, each pet needs a carrier if you need to move quickly. Having small pets secure frees your hands up for other things.
Put an old towel or sheet inside your carrier(s). Covering your pet will be helpful.
Do you have food, water and sanitation (e.g., litter box) should you leave your home? Put spare bowls, bottles of water, and baggie of food inside a carrier. For cats, add a small litter box or cardboard tray and a small amount of litter.
Easy tip: get a small, plastic dish washing pan from a dollar store (be sure it will fit inside the carrier). Use that to store your spare food, water, bowls, and litter. You can then use the pan as a litter box. Yes, it is too small for everyday use, but in an emergency, we all might have to go in places we normally wouldn’t. Put all the supplies inside two garbage bags. In an emergency, take the bag out, put the pet in, and get to safety. This way you have all your supplies for your pet where you need them.
Do you have medical information about your pet–vaccination history or any medication instructions? Do you have a picture of your pet (besides on your phone)?
Keep a copy of your pet’s current medical records along with a printed picture someplace safe. Perhaps in the carrier or your car.
Many veterinary clinics offer online access to this information (e.g., Petly, Pet Portals, PetDesk), but depending on your situation you may not have your phone or internet access right away.
Is your pet microchipped? Is the number registered? Do you have that info if you aren’t home? It goes without saying that the answers should all be “yes.” Sadly for many pet owners this isn’t the case. Please, if nothing else, microchip your pet and register the number.
Keep your supplies and information current. Each time you change the batteries in your smoke alarm, rotate the food and water, and update any medical information.
As veterinary clinic staff, we are starting the conversations at home because we are also pet owners. You can read about some of our staff plans if you would like ideas.
We encourage you to make your own disaster plan for your pets. We hope and pray this plan will never be put in motion. Still, we owe it to our pets to keep them safe.
Pet Disaster Preparedness Resources:
- Red Cross Pets and Disaster Safety Checklist (.pdf)
- Red Cross General information on Pet Safety and Safety Plan Suggestions
- Keeping the Whole Family Safe (.pdf) – by AVMA
- Humane Society of the United States: Keeping your pet safe in a disaster and preparedness plans
- Humane Society of the United States: Keeping your pet safe during a tornado
- FEMA’s guide to caring for pets in a disaster and safety tips