In honor of National Pet Day on April 11, we encourage you to celebrate your furry, feathered and scaly companions and the unconditional love they provide by preparing them for an emergency. Planning ahead for disaster will prevent you from being caught off-guard by the unexpected, and will ensure that you are able to safeguard yourself and your pet.
For many, pets are more than a household animal meant for companionship and enjoyment. These animals become important family members, which is why they should be a part of your emergency preparedness plan. We depend on them in so many ways, but when disaster strikes they turn to us for their well-being.
According to a 2011 survey, nearly 50 percent of respondents stocked extra supplies for pets in their Ready kit. That’s a good start, but there’s still more work to be done. What will you do with Tiger, Daisy, Smokey or Oreo in an event such as a hurricane, tornado or flood?
Here are a few tips to help you prepare in advance for the sake of your pet’s safety:
Start with the basics – Prepare your pets just like you would your two-legged family members. Create a Ready kit and include basic items such as food and water for three days, medication and important documents like rabies vaccination forms. You may also want to include an extra collar with an ID tag, an extra harness or leash and familiar items such as favorite toy, bed or crate to reduce stress.
Arrange a safe haven – There are two things to keep in mind: If it isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for your pets. Also, if you have to evacuate, most public shelters cannot accept animals. Make a plan detailing where to take your pet during an emergency. Try to locate a hotel or shelter that would accept you and your pet. Or consider a boarding facility. You could also ask neighbors, or friends and relatives outside of your immediate area if they could be a temporary caregiver for your pet.
Stay put and stay safe – At the first sign of a warning or storm disaster, always bring your pets indoors. Make sure that all of your pets wear collars and tags with up-to-date identification in case you have to evacuate immediately. Leaving pets behind, even if you try to create a safe place for them, is likely to result in them being injured, lost or worse. Stay informed by monitoring a local radio station, TV station or NOAA Weather Radio for the latest information, and follow the directions of local officials when told to evacuate.