Now that hurricane season is bearing down on us here along the Gulf Coast, we begin to talk preparedness. That means not only do we humans need to batten down the hatches, we need to think about our four-legged family members as well. Pet owners should have an emergency plan for their pets.
More than 358 million pets reside in 63 percent of American households. According to a Zogby International poll, 61 percent of pet owners will not evacuate if they cannot bring their pets with them. However, more and more hotels are becoming pet friendly. And, in disaster situations, others will relax their no pets allowed policy.
FEMA asks that If you evacuate your home, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND! Pets most likely cannot survive on their own; and if by some remote chance they do, you may not be able to find them when you return. The federal government now officially supports including pets in disaster plans and promotes pet-friendly shelters. However, don’t assume every shelter in your area is pet-friendly.
It is crucial that residents are prepared to take pets with them if asked to evacuate in the face of this potentially destructive storm,” advised Laura Bevan, Eastern regional director for The Humane Society of the United States. “If it isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for your pets.”
Don’t get caught unprepared! Keep the following list handy so you can be ready to evacuate your pets in case of an emergency:
- Food and water bowls –
Travel size and plastic bowls are much easier to transport on the road.
- Medications –
Medications, vaccination records and pet first aid supplies should also be packed. Medications and medical records should be stored in a waterproof container. A pet first aid book is also good to include.
- Comfort items –
Bring along comfort items, such as a toy and blanket. These can help to reduce your pet’s stress from travel and severe weather.
- Current photos –
Bring along current photos and descriptions of your pets, including any details or markings. These items can be extremely helpful to help others identify your pet. You can also use this information to prove they are your pets in case you become separated. Pet owners should remember that having your pet microchipped dramatically increases the chances of a reunion if that pet becomes lost.
- Leash, harness, and carrier –
For dogs, remember to bring a leash or harness and a carrier large enough to use as a sleeping area. These items will help transport your pet safely and to ensure they can’t escape. Carriers should be large enough to allow the animal to stand comfortably, turn around, and lie down.
- Tags and IDs –
Your pet should be wearing up-to-date identification at all times in case you become separated. Make sure your pet is wearing its collar and that it includes the proper information. If it is not already on there, you should add your current cell phone number to your pet’s tag. It may also be a good idea to include the phone number of a friend or relative outside your immediate area. That way, if your pet is lost, you can provide a number that will be answered even if you’re unable to be reached by phone.
Cats will need enough litter for five days, and a litter box that can be easily transported. A sturdy carrier also makes travel much easier for your cat.
Plan for your pet’s safe evacuation before an emergency arises to ensure a smooth and easy evacuation process to reduce stress. Remember, your pet is depending on you for their safety. Following these easy steps will help them feel safe and secure in unfamiliar settings.