National Preparedness Month ~ September!
National Preparedness Month, which takes place in September, aims to educate Americans on how to be prepared to respond to all kinds of emergencies, including natural disasters and smaller-scale events such as water main breaks and power outages. Increasingly, local responders are urging people who have pets in their homes to include them in their emergency planning. A proper emergency plan should include not only family members but friends, neighbors, and a trusted vet.
The two most important things that you can do for your pets to prepare for a potential disaster is to ensure that they are microchipped (complete with registration with the manufacturer, kept up to date); and to ensure your pets are wearing collars and tags with up-to-date information.
To be prepared for an emergency in which people will have to evacuate their homes for an amount of time, do advance research to find hotels that accommodate pets, as well as local humane societies and emergency vet clinics. In the event of an actual emergency, there may not be sufficient time to do this research. You should also contact your local emergency management office to inquire about accommodations for owners and pets. You can also check with friends or family outside of your area to see if they could accommodate you and your pets in case of an emergency. Pet parents should never assume that pets will be okay until they can return. Pets who are left behind can escape through broken windows or other openings, leaving them to fend for themselves, which can be deadly for pets, especially those who have had no experience in those circumstances. Also, it is never known at the time of an emergency evacuation how long it will last. Therefore, it is best to bring your pets with you if at all possible. If you do not have a car, you should make arrangements with a friend, neighbor, or family member.
A carefully crafted emergency plan will include all pets in the family and should assign one pet for each family member, to find and care for should an emergency occur. Detailed in the plan should be a designated spot where family members are going to meet after locating the pets in case they are separated. When having to evacuate with pets, leaving as early as possible increases the chances of finding pet-friendly accommodations.
Helpful links for pet-friendly hotels are included below:
www.bringfido.com or call 877-411-FIDO
www.dogfriendly.com or call 888-281-5170
www.doginmysuitcase.com or call 888-0254-0637
www.pet-friendly-hotels.net or call 866-966-3046
www.pets-allowed-hotels.com or call 800-250-1625
If a family doesn’t have to evacuate, there are still considerations to keep pets safe. Putting rescue stickers on windows will inform rescuers what types of pets and how many there are in a household. Keeping dogs on leashes and cats in carriers will help keep pets secure, and I.D. tags will confirm pets’ names if they get loose.
A pet disaster supply kit is essential in the event of an emergency. A disaster kit should include the following:
- a list of pets and the individual needs for each pet, including their microchip numbers;
- a crate or carrier for each pet, lined with towels or blankets and sufficiently sized to allow your pet to stand and turn around, labeled with the pet’s name, your name and contact information on each carrier;
- Copies of a handout containing your pet’s photo, description, microchip number, and owner contact information, in case you get separated from your pet;
- collars and leashes
- a pet first aid kit;
- veterinarian information and vaccination records;
- a three-week supply of each pet’s medications (including sedatives for pets who frighten easily), along with copies of prescriptions;
- food and water in waterproof, airtight containers;
- plastic bags (for waste);
- paper towels;
- bleach-containing cleaning supplies;
- a can opener;
- food and water bowls;
- familiar toys and blankets;
- towels and grooming items;
- litterbox and litter for cats;
- detailed instructions for animal care professionals and rescue workers;
- a copy of emergency numbers; and
- a flashlight and batteries.
As pet professionals and members of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS), sitters should have their own emergency plans in place and encourage their clients to create emergency plans of their own for the well-being of their pets, as well as for their families.