Emergency Preparedness for Pets

May 20, 2015

Emergency Preparedness

Storm season is upon us. Knowing how to prepare for a potential disaster is essential to keeping your family organized and safe. This includes emergency preparedness for pets, both indoor animals and livestock. Our pets always depend on us to keep them safe, but this need is even more critical when dangerous weather poses a threat.

Does your family have an emergency plan? Do you know how to make a pet disaster kit?

Keys to Emergency Preparedness:

  1. Be informed
  2. Plan ahead
  3. Evacuate
  4. Return home

Be Informed
Know the following:
• Where to get weather alerts and warnings
• Local emergency plans for shelter and evacuation and local emergency contacts
• Radio and television stations for emergency information
• Telephone number for county Office of Emergency Management (evacuation information and shelter locations)

Plan Ahead
• Create a disaster plan
• Practice the evacuation of family and pets
• Decide on a meeting place
• Make pet care arrangements
• Prepare disaster kits for each pet

If evacuation becomes necessary, take your pets with you. Their chances of survival are reduced if you leave them behind. When making a plan, include pet transport and supplies. If your pet isn’t familiar with a crate or other restraint devices, start practicing. This will make it more efficient if you need to get your pet into the car quickly.

Evacuation Plan (In order of preference)
• Family or friend’s house
• Pet-friendly hotel
• County evacuation shelter. Those set up and operated by County Animal Response Teams are always animal-friendly. Other general emergency shelters may not allow pets. Be sure to ask ahead.

Back-Up Plan
There might be a time when you cannot get home to retrieve your pet. Establish a buddy system with a neighbor who can evacuate with your pet should this occur. Make sure the people included in your back-up plans have access to your home and are comfortable with your pet.

Return Home
• Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and pets may become confused and wander off. Be sure your pet is leashed when going outside.
• Normally quiet and friendly pets may become aggressive or defensive as a result of a changed environment
• Displaced raccoons, skunks, or other wild animals may have entered your yard or neighborhood. Do not leave your pet unattended or off-leash. Also be aware of other hazards such as sharp objects, downed electric lines, fallen trees and other debris, and contaminated water.

Sheltering In Place

In the event that you must remain in your home, here are some precautions.
Small animals
• Bring pets inside immediately
• Separate dogs and cats and keep them leashed or crated
• Have a large supply of newspapers to create an indoor restroom
• Feed animals moist or canned food to minimize water consumption
• Have a pet first aid kit
• Maintain a supply of fresh water

• Identify the best places to shelter animals during various types of disasters
• Create an emergency barn kit
• Maintain a supply of fresh water (automatic watering systems will fail during power outages)
• Test backup generators to ensure they are in working order. Use fuel stabilizer in gas tanks. Run supply lines dry.
• Make sure each animal and halter has permanent identification on it
• Keep driveways clear and have a sign so first responders can find you

Preparing a Pet Disaster Kit

Here is a list of items to gather in advance of an emergency situation.
Small Animals
• Re-sealable plastic bag containing: pet license, microchip information, ID, photos of pet(s) with owner(s), proof of current vaccinations, name and phone number of family veterinarian
• Proper-sized metal or plastic pet carrier (crate)
• Leashes, muzzles, obedience aids
• Booties to protect paws
• Pet first aid material: cotton bandages, bandage tape, scissors, antibiotic ointment, latex gloves, tweezers, saline solution, basic pet first aid book
• Food: wet food with easy-open lid or vacuum packed dry food, bowls (remember to switch out food every 6 months, if unused)
• Water in non-breakable containers (at least 3 days worth)
• Medications with instructions
• Special needs items for exotic pets (heat source, water bottles)
• Newspapers, paper towels, handy-wipes, can openers, flashlight, blankets, litter, litter pan

• Contact telephone number for family veterinarian, private stable, race track, fairgrounds
• Plastic trash barrel with lid (for use as a water bucket)
• Generator with gas storage
• Leg wraps, fire-resistant non-nylon leads and halters, cotton rope, heavy leather gloves
• First aid items, portable radio, flashlight, batteries
• Sharp knife, wire cutters, tarpaulins, bleach
• Re-sealable plastic bag including photos of animals from all sides, microchip and tattoo information, registration papers, medical records, record of each animal’s age, sex, breed, color. Duplicates should be kept in travel trailer.
• Medications with instructions
• Food
• Emergency cash
• Transportation
• Emergency barn kit

Pet Emergency Preparedness Resources