Protecting Your Pets in a Emergency
Dr. Christina Frick, D.V.M.
The danger is heading right for you. You've got very little time to evacuate. What do you do about your pets? Whether it's a flood, hurricane, tornado or fire, it only takes one natural disaster to motivate people to plan ahead.
Here are some tips to help you plan ahead, as well as items to include in your pet disaster kit. Remember if electricity is lost, dog and cat food may spoil within just a few days. Especially in the summer, it's a good idea to keep an emergency supply of canned and dry food. Supplies of fresh water can also be vulnerable during floods and even extended power outages when water pressure is lost. If tap water becomes contaminated, use bottled or boiled water and make sure to ration enough for both your family and your pets.
Prepare an area of the garage, basement or inside room of the house suitable for your pet in different emergency weather situations. The room should be in the safest part of the house and protected from wind and driving rain. Try to make sure your pet is comfortable there ahead of time.
In case of fire, never go back into a burning house to rescue animals. Also never go back into a house after tornados until the house has been checked by the police for dangerous gas leaks or down power lines. Frick Vet Services provides "Please Save our Pets" window decals for clients, so the firefighters, police and or emergency crews know animals are inside the house.
The current news of the hurricane has many stories of animal rescues and the animals lost. Remember the Hoisington Tornado a few years ago, there were many pets running the countryside, several lost pets and many taken to shelters and vet clinics to find their owners. Make sure all identification tags (rabies and license) are up-to-date to expedite the return of a lost dog or cat. Identification should include your name, address, phone number where you can be reached, out-of-state phone number of someone that you will be in contact with during or soon after the disaster/evacuation, and if possible include your veterinarian's name, location and phone number. It's a fact that pets get separated from owners during disaster situations. Several pets can lose collars and tags. The best permanent identification is microchipping. A tiny microchip that contains a personal, one-of-a-kind identification number distinguishes your pet as a special member of your family. All animals that come to a shelter or vet clinic are scanned for the microchip. During registration all your contact and alternate contacts are provided to help your pet come home!! This information can be assessed nationally 24 hours a day. Frick Vet Service offers this service for dogs, cat, and horses.
Make sure your pet accepts its carrier. Well-behaved animals are always appreciated, but even more so during times of crisis. Put together a pet disaster kit ahead of time. The kit should be kept in or near the pet's carrier. Some owners practice with the kit when they travel and replenish supplies when they return home. Others update their kits every spring and fall when they change their clocks. A well stocked kit should include: 2 day supply of animal's regular food (can opener if you need it), 2 day supply of water, collapsible food and water bowls, copies of pet's vaccination and medical record, supply of any medications you pet needs, litter box for cats, leash and collar.
Other emergency list info you may need: Boarding facility, Hotels that allow pets, local Animal Control, local Police Department, local Fire Department, local Public Health department, local Animal Shelter, local Red Cross Chapter, Local Humane Society, United States Department of Agriculture Missing Pet Network (www.missingpet.com)
Planning ahead and acting quickly is the best way to keep you and your family, including your animals, out of danger.