Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Are your pets prepared for an emergency?

When Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana, I was aghast at the effect it had on all the pets in New Orleans.  I could not believe 1) that people could leave their family pets to fend for themselves or 2) that the search and rescue people would not make arrangements for family pets.  I sat and watched those poor animals trying to survive and the look of confusion on their faces was heartbreaking.

So, with the second hurricane now hitting Louisiana, I was very happy to see the improvement.  People were leaving with their pets.  Rescuers were getting pets as well as people.  Much better!

Just because you don't live in a hurricane zone doesn't mean that you can't have a disaster at your location.
Tornados, mud slides, torrential rain and flooding, earthquakes, fires--all these things can happen anywhere.  So it is important that you have a plan in place prior to any of these events to protect your family and your pets.

If you need to be evacuated from your home, do you know who will be able to care for your pets?  Do you know what shelters will allow you to bring your pets and what you need to be able to bring them?  Call ahead and talk to the shelters in your area.  Get informed and be prepared to care for your pets when they will really need you to do so.  If your area shelters don't take pets, make arrangements with family or friends in another area to harbor your pets until you can do so.  Don't leave it up to chance.

Do you have an emergency kit for your pets?  You should have one for every member of the family and that should include your pets.  Things like medications, food and water for 3 days, medical records and emergency contact numbers, maybe even a pet first aid kit (which you can find online at Amazon), maybe even a pet first aid book to help you do the right thing in an emergency.  Do each of your pets have a crate or carrier?  I'll bet that to take them to a shelter you will need to have them crated or in a closed carrier.

What will you do if you and your pets become separated?  Do you have a recent photo with you?  You may need one to identify your pet if found.  Be sure your pet has ID tags on with your name and telephone number; that way if someone finds your pet you will be reunited quickly.  Maybe now is the time to get that microchip to prepare for future emergencies.

Your pets will be extremely anxious and in need of comforting during any evacuation.  Be sure to bring along a favorite toy or favorite sleeping blanket to help your pet deal with the disruption to his everyday routine.  When you know that an emergency condition is imminent, bring your pets inside to prevent them from bolting in panic.  Don't forget that your pet expects you to look out his interests during an emergency!

I know that I have certainly been making my own arrangements and collecting the appropriate items to make sure that my two babies are cared for in an emergency.  How about you?

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