Don't forget your four-legged friend
June is National Pet Preparedness Month. While you should be prepared for pet emergencies year-round, this month offers an important reminder to review your family’s emergency plans and ensure you’ve incorporated a plan for your pets as well.
Disasters can happen anytime, anywhere and can take many different forms, from barn fires or flooding caused by violent storms to earthquakes or gas line explosions. Depending upon where you live, possible natural disasters may vary—from hurricanes and blizzards to flooding and wildfires. Regardless of your location, man-made disasters or emergency situations such as plane crashes, train derailments, chemical spills and widespread power outages could occur and prevent you from reaching your pets or force you to quickly evacuate.
Pet owners should create a pet-friendly family emergency plan, and it’s essential that pet-care professionals, such as pet sitters and dog walkers, have disaster plans in place as well.
While no one is ever 100 percent ready for a disaster, a good plan can make a huge difference if it’s thorough and flexible.
The following eight tips will help prepare you and your pets for a disaster:
- Understand the possibilities. Recognize the different types of natural and man-made disasters that can occur in your area and know how to effectively plan for them.
- Plan your response. Different disasters require different courses of action. The sooner you create a disaster plan, the more time you have to prepare.
- Update identification. Make sure your pet wears current identification at all times that includes his name, rabies tag and your cell phone number since you will not be at home.
- Keep your pet’s records handy. Create a file for each pet that contains health history, vaccination dates and a recent photo. Keep the file in a safe and secure place.
- Research animal-friendly places. If a disaster forces you to evacuate, the best thing you can do to protect your pets is to evacuate them as well. Know where you can take your pet in the event of an emergency. Evacuation shelters and pet-friendly hotels outside a 60-mile radius of your home are good places to start. Websites like BringFido.com and GoPetFriendly.com offer searchable directories of pet-friendly lodging options.
- Stock up on emergency supplies. Keep extra leashes, bowls, newspapers, trash bags, cat litter, litter pans and at least a five-day supply of pet food and water on hand. Be sure you have a pet first aid kit as well.
- Get a carrier. Have a properly-sized pet carrier for each pet. Carriers should be large enough for the pet to stand up, turn around and lie down comfortably.
- Communicate your plan. Make sure that the other people you rely on for your pet’s care, like your pet sitter, are privy to your specific pet-care plan in case you are away from home when a disaster strikes.
In addition to communicating your disaster plan, it’s important to make sure that any pet sitter or dog walker you use also has a disaster plan in place should they be caring for your pet(s) when disaster strikes. If you are in need of a professional pet sitter or dog walker, visit PSI’s Pet Sitter Locator, the largest online directory of professional pet sitters and dog walkers, at www.petsit.com/locate.
For additional resources, visit the Pet and Animal Emergency Planning section of FEMA’s website, which offers a wealth of information to help incorporate your pets into your disaster planning.