DON’T FORGET YOUR PETS IN YOUR EMERGENCY PLAN
by Linda Burhans
When disaster strikes, we can easily become overwhelmed. Gathering our supplies and getting to safe ground with our family is an all-consuming thought. It’s no surprise that our pets often suffer during this dishevel. We panic, our pets panic, and no one is functioning very well. That’s why it is so important to plan for your pets’ safety along with your own. When our thoughts are scattered, we want a simple plan to fall back on so everyone, including our furry family members, are included and kept safe. Here are some basic guidelines for planning your pets’ safety during an emergency situation.
Probably the most important thing to do for your pet is to be sure he or she wears a collar with identification tags. Your pet will be scared during a disaster or emergency and may run away. Pets without identification tags are rarely returned to their owners in the case of evacuation. The stories of pets walking hundreds or thousands of miles to return to their home are extremely rare. They make good headlines, but they don’t tell the story of the millions who never return because they don’t have any identification.
An even better method of identification for pets is the micro-chip. This tiny identification chip is inserted under the skin via a hypodermic needle. It’s relatively inexpensive. Ask your vet the next time you go and get a quote. Many vets will do the micro-chip during another service at a reduced charge. You register your pet’s micro-chip online. Then, anyone who finds your pet can take him or her to any vet where they run a scanner over the skin, just like at the grocery store. If there’s a micro-chip, the scanner will read the number, which will be sent to the online database which has your information. They will then contact you with the whereabouts of your pet. I like this service because it’s permanent, whereas collars and tags can get lost.
A Pet Pack
It’s good advice to have an emergency evacuation pack prepared for each member of your household, and your pet is no exception. Having this pack prepared will take the guess work out of what to grab if you need to evacuate in a hurry. What should you put in an emergency evacuation pack for your pet? This is a list of a few items I would recommend. Of course, your pet may require other items, but these are just some reminders.
• Water – your pet may be smaller than you are, but they will need lots of water, especially since they will be stressed
• Food – pack several days’ worth of single servings of dry food in small plastic ziploc bags
• Dishes for food and water – look for collapsible dishes if your budget permits
• Leash and harness – an emergency situation may make your pet panic, so keep a leash handy
• Pet carrier or kennel – you will do yourself and your pet a favor by having a carrier or kennel handy, keeping your pet safe and secure
• Towel – keeping dry is just as important to your pet as it is to you
• Blanket – have a warm blanket available to protect your pet in harsh weather conditions
• Toys and chewies – waiting out a disaster is stressful so having something to play with and chew on can help your pet relieve anxiety
• Medications and prescription copies
• Medical record copies, including rabies shots, etc.
Keep your pets’ emergency pack right along with your family’s packs. This way you won’t have to think twice and worry about what to grab for your pet. The confusion may create anxiety and turmoil in the house, and knowing that your pet will be safe will help alleviate some of the stress. Remember – your pet can’t ask for what they need, so it’s your job to provide it by planning ahead.