Saturday, May 12th is National Animal Disaster-Preparedness Day. At Pet Camp we have a comprehensive plan on how to take care of the counselors and the campers in the event of an emergency. While we have you covered when you’re with us, you should have a plan for when your pet isn’t camping with us. Emergencies come in many forms, and they may require anything from sheltering in place for a few hours, a brief absence from your home, or even a long term evacuation. Here are some steps to consider.
1. Pre-Emergency Research
First, make sure that your pets are current on all of their medical needs – like vaccines.
Also, make sure your pet can be identified in the event that you are separated from each other. In the past this meant wearing their tags but today microchipping is highly recommended.
Have a picture taken of you with your pets to help you document that you are your pets’ parent. This photo will also help you describe your pet to others. On the back of the picture write your name and your pet’s name as well as detailed information about your pet such as breed, age, sex, color and distinguishing features.
Many emergency shelters do not allow pets. Spend time in advance of an emergency to research where your pet can go that is safe and secure. Call around to your local shelters (to see if they are available to help) as well as your local pet lodging facilities to see what their requirements are BEFORE you need them. These are places you can call upon if your emergency is localized (such as damage to your house) or in a regional emergency (such as an earthquake).
2. Prepare a Pet Emergency Supply Kit
Just like you need a personal emergency supply kit, your pet needs one too. Make sure you use plastic zipper bags to store items and then place them into a larger waterproof container. Here are items to include in your kit:
• Food & Water: keep at least 3 days worth. If your pet eats canned food get some cans with tops that don’t need a can opener. Make sure that you rotate this food and water every few months so that it’s ready for use in case you actually need it.
• Food & water bowls: something light and easy to clean.
• Medicine & Medical Records: if your pet is on regular medicines keep an extra supply in your kit. Put a copy of your pets’ recent medical and vaccine records in your kit should you need to have you pet stay somewhere.
• First Aid Kit: while there is a long list of items that could be in a pet first aid kit, the basics are: cotton bandages, bandage tape and scissors, antibiotic ointment, latex gloves, tweezers, saline solution, and a basic pet first aid book.
• Leash & Collar: While many pets wear a collar all the time, keep an extra leash and collar in your kit as your pet (especially your dog) will need to be safely with you. If you have an extra set of ID tags put them on the spare collar. Of course, ensuring that your pet is microchipped will assist in identification if you and your pet are ever separated.
• Crate or Carrying Case: to the extent practical, have a crate or carrying case for your pet. If your kit is small, and you have a smaller pet (such as a cat) consider an all-cotton pillow case so that you have something to contain your pet. Depending on your situation you may want to consider a crate on wheels or a cat stroller to make evacuation easier.
• Cleaning supplies: Include litter and a litter box (if appropriate), paper towels and plastic trash bags. If you need a litter box, consider using aluminum roasting pans – they are light and can be thrown away. Include some liquid dish soap and disinfectant.
3. During the emergency
If you stay at home during the emergency, take your pets with you to a safe room or location in your house. Here in San Francisco, an area without windows and with strong structural support is best. If there is time, put your pet on a leash or in carrier. Doing this means you’ll not only know that your pet is with you, but it also provides a naturally safe environment and allows you to move him to safe areas as needed.
If you need to evacuate your home do your best to take your pet and your emergency kit with you. If you need to leave a pet behind, secure them in a bathroom with water in the bathtub, food and let the local emergency response officials know that there are pets in your house. Once you have left your house, follow instructions from the response agencies and, while it’s easier said than done, stay calm. Being prepared will make the situation less stressful on both you and your pet and greatly increase the odds of a happy ending.