While we always hope for a smooth, uneventful storm season, we all know too well that disasters, such as hurricanes, tornadoes or earthquakes, can strike at any time, with little or no notice. At Petfinder.com, we want all our pet families to have an easy-to-execute plan that will make it safer for everyone.
Since Petfinder.com strongly recommends that all families have a pet emergency plan and prepare a disaster kit and plan for your pets, we want to ensure that you have all the tools to help make the process as painless as possible. Please take a look at our suggested preparedness plan with printable tips and plan outlines and start up the road to complete family safety today!
How to Create an Emergency Preparedness Plan
1. Pet Identification. Identify your pets at all times with collars or microchips. Collars should display your name, telephone number and an emergency contact. While collars can become lost, microchips are a secure means of assuring that your pet is identified via an electronic device that is painlessly implanted in your pet’s shoulder area. Since animals may escape during disasters, permanent identification will increase your chances of retrieving your pet(s).
2. Evacuation Supplies. Be prepared for emergency evacuation by having pet carriers on-hand and in an accessible place near the front door. An “Evacsak” is an alternative to a carrier and is similar to a pillowcase but ensures safe pet transport. For reptiles or fish, make sure you have lightweight plastic tanks that can be used for transporting animals in a hurry.
For dogs, keep an extra leash hanging near the front door where friends or neighbors can find it. All dogs should have collars and leashes, especially since a frightened dog may slip away if held only by the collar.
3. Evacuation Stickers. Affix a pet evacuation sticker on your front door or on the front door of your refrigerator indicating the number of pets residing in your household and an emergency contact number in case the animals must be removed without your knowledge. Without this, rescuers may not be aware that there are animals in the home, particularly in the case of cats that may hide when frightened.
4. Emergency Support System. Inform your landlord, neighbors, friends and relatives that you have pets in your home that may need their care in the case of an emergency. Make sure that at least two individuals have keys to your home and are familiar with your pets. Consider starting a “buddy system” in your neighborhood to ensure that someone will check on your animals in a disaster, and agree to do the same for them.
Identify several possible locations where you can take your pet(s) if you need to evacuate your home.
And, before disaster strikes, contact your veterinarian to see if he/she has a disaster plan. Know where you can take your animal for medical attention in the event that it becomes necessary due to a disaster.
5. Medical Records. Keep copies of your pets’ medical records on hand so that if they are treated in the event of an emergency, the veterinarians know about any prior health conditions or medical needs. If your pet requires medication, always have a back-up supply on hand in case a disaster strikes and you cannot get to your veterinarian.
6. Emergency Supplies. You should have the following supplies on hand at all times:
- A 2-week supply of pet food and water
- A 2-week supply of cat litter and plastic bags for waste disposal
- A small container of soap for cleaning purposes
- First Aid kit and manual
- You may wish to purchase a crate for your cat or dog
In general, you should always leave plenty of fresh water available for pets left alone at home. While leaving extra food out is inadvisable due to the health hazard of obesity, extra water may protect the animals from dehydration if they become stranded at home.
7. Retrieving a Lost Pet. Know where the local animal shelters and rescue organizations are in your area. You may need to visit them to look for a missing pet. It is important that you start looking for a missing animal as soon as you realize that it is gone, since some shelters may not be able to house animals for long periods of time.
Take several pictures of your pets and keep them with you at all times. You will need them in the event that you become separated from your pets and need to identify them. Similarly, be ready to describe any distinguishing markings or characteristics of your pets.
Disaster Preparedness Plan Checklist
- Food One-to-two-week supply of the dry or canned food your pet usually eats. (While stored, make sure to replace the food according to expiration dates.) Also include a spoon, food dish and, if you use canned foods, a can opener. Record your pet’s eating habits (amount and times) as well as any allergies your pet may have and keep the record with the other paperwork in this kit. Store the food in a waterproof and protective bag or case.
- Water One-to-two-week supply in gallon-sized plastic containers. (Make sure to replace stored water regularly to ensure freshness.) Include a collapsible or travel water bowl that is easy to store.
- Cleaning Supplies To clean crates/litter boxes.
- Cat Litter One-to-two-week supply plus a small, plastic litter box and litter scoop. You can opt for disposable litter boxes that come pre-made with litter.
- Photographs In case you need to distribute pictures if your pet gets lost.
- Vaccine Records/Medical History Copies of important veterinary documents, such as vaccination records, medical history, medical conditions, records of important test results (FeLV/FIV).
- Veterinary Information Write down the name, address and phone number of your vet and an alternate vet. Write out a release statement, authorizing medical treatments for your pets. Write down your pet insurance policy number, if you have one.
- Proof of Ownership/Animal Information Copies of registration information, adoption papers, proof of purchase, microchip, tattoo or other identification information.
- List of Emergency Contacts
- Medication List each pet separately and include dose and frequency for each medication. Keep a two-week reserve supply, with directions on how to administer. If possible, keep the medication in the original jar or bottle that it came in. Replace according to expiration dates. Don’t forget reserve doses of flea and tick and heartworm preventatives.
- Spare or Extra Collars, Harnesses, or Leashes
- Bedding or Pet Blankets
- Identification Tags If possible, have the ability to write your temporary location or contact information on the tags.
- Brushes/Combs, Grooming Supplies, Sanitation Supplies
- Animal Crates or Carriers Label with your contact information; make sure the animal has room to move around and it is safe for the pet (latches and bolts should be secure).
- Pet First-Aid Kit
- first aid book for dogs
- conforming bandage (3″ x 5″)
- absorbent gauze pads (4″ x 4″)
- absorbent gauze roll (3″ x 1 yard)
- cotton-tipped applicators (1 small box)
- antiseptic wipes (1 package)
- emollient cream (1 container)
- tweezers and scissors
- instant cold pack
- latex disposable gloves (several pairs)
- proper fitting muzzle
Emergency Preparedness Resources
During the Emergency
Your Pet’s Health
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