Our pets are family and their health and well-being should always be a top priority. As you make your family disaster plan, it’s important to include your four-legged friends. Here in Georgia, we can fall victim to everything from tornadoes to hurricanes and ice storms to house fires. It’s important to know what you would do should any of these situations arise.
When it comes to disaster preparedness for people and their pets, it all starts with a plan and supplies.
Questions to ask as you develop your plan:
- If evacuated, where will we go that is pet friendly? A friend/family member’s home? A hotel? A boarding facility? Always have multiple options available, just in case. GoPetFriendly.com is a great resource for finding pet friendly options.
- If you’re away, who can care for and make decisions on behalf of your pet? Make sure you have a designated emergency contact.
Preparedness supplies should include:
- 3-days’ worth of food and water
- First Aid Kit (gauze, antiseptic, sterile saline solution, etc.)
- Current medications (flea/tick, heartworm, diabetes medication, etc.)
- Adoption papers
- Medical records
- Comfort items (blankets, toys, treats)
- Travel carrier (especially crucial for cats)
So you’ve figured out where to go, what you’ll bring and how you’ll get there. Now it’s time to dig a little deeper and go beyond the basics.
We’re taking a look at the four most overlooked elements to a disaster preparedness plan.
- Microchip: Having your pet microchipped is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your pets safety during any disaster. But it’s up to you to make sure the information on file is current. Not only do you need to ensure that your address and phone number are always up-to-date, but you need to have an emergency contact outside of your immediate area. If a natural disaster strikes your city, cell phones may be compromised and your neighbors could be facing the same challenges you do. An emergency contact outside of your city will be much more helpful to a lost or injured pet.
- Vaccinations: You know to have a first aid kit on hand to keep your pet healthy in the event of a disaster, but it’s important to keep your pet healthy before issues arise. For example, if your disaster plan is to board your pet, they will need to be current on breed specific vaccinations, plus Bordatella and Rabies.
- Current, Clear Photo: Alongside medical records, it’s important to have a current and clear picture of your pet. Should your pet go missing, this will be incredibly helpful in finding your companion. It may even be helpful to have a pre-made “Missing Dog/Cat” poster ready to go that you update every year or so with a new picture. Also, have a picture with your pet to make reclaiming a displaced pet even easier.
- “Pets Reside Here” Notification: You need a way to alert first responders to animals in the home. This is for both the safety of your pet and the safety of others. A notice on the door, a sticker in the window, or a sign on the mailbox will allow police officers, firefighters or anyone else responding to a disaster at your home.
It’s important to note that every disaster is different. As plans change due to the nature of the disaster, it’s crucial not to panic and remember that the idea is always to minimize long lasting damage and avoid the permanent loss of a beloved pet.
Above all else, remember: if it’s not safe for you, it’s not safe for your pet.
For more guidance on helping your pet be prepared for the unexpected, visit the Ready Georgia Pets page.