When disaster strikes, don’t be caught unprepared! Follow these important tips:
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.
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