Disaster Preparedness for Pets
Why You Need to Be Prepared
Hurricanes, floods, wildfires, hazardous material spills --
disasters can strike
anytime, anywhere. If you think you will never have to evacuate unless you live
in a floodplain, near an earthquake fault line, or in a coastal area, you may be
tragically mistaken. It is imperative that you make preparations to evacuate
your family and your pets in any situation. In the event of a disaster, proper
preparation will pay off with the safety of your family and pets.
There are steps that you can
take to be better prepared to care for your pets in a disaster. Here are some
emergency tips and planning information from The Humane Society of the United
YOU EVACUATE, TAKE YOUR PETS
The single most important thing
you can do to protect your pets if you evacuate is to take them with you. If
itís not safe for you to stay in the disaster area, itís not safe for your pets.
Animals left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed.
Animals left inside your home can escape through storm-damaged areas, such as
broken windows. Animals turned loose to fend for themselves are likely to become
victims of exposure, starvation, predators, contaminated food or water, or
accidents. Leaving dogs tied or chained outside in a disaster is a death
If you leave, even if you think you may be gone only for a few hours, take your
animals. Once you leave your home, you have no way of knowing how long youíll be
kept out of the area, and you may not be able to go back for your pets
* Leave earlyódonít wait for a
mandatory evacuation order. An unnecessary trip is far better than waiting too
long to leave safely with your pets. If you wait to be evacuated by emergency
officials, you may be told to leave your pets behind.
Every member of your family
should know what he or she needs to take when you evacuate. You also need to
prepare supplies for your pet. Stock up on nonperishables well ahead of time,
add perishable items at the last minute, and have everything ready to go at a
momentís notice. Keep everything accessible, stored in sturdy containers (duffel
bags, covered trash containers, etc.) that can be carried easily.
disaster kit, you should include:
* Medications and medical
records stored in a waterproof container and a first aid kit. A pet first aid
book also is good to include.
* Sturdy leashes, harnesses,
and carriers to transport pets safely and to ensure that your pets canít escape.
Carriers should be large enough for the animal to stand comfortably, turn
around, and lie down. Your pet may have to stay in the carrier for hours at a
time while you have taken shelter away from home. Be sure to have a secure cage
with no loose objects inside it to accommodate smaller pets. These may require
blankets or towels for bedding and warmth, and other special items.
* Current photos and
descriptions of your pets to help others identify them in case you and your pets
become separated and to prove that they are yours.
Food and water for at least
three days for each pet, bowls, cat litter and litter box, and a manual can
Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and the
name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to board your pets or
place them in foster care.
* Pet beds and toys, if you can
easily take them, to reduce stress.
* Other useful items include
newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags, grooming items, and household
DONíT FORGET ID
Your pets should be wearing
up-to-date identification at all times. Itís a good idea to include the phone
number of a friend or relative outside your immediate areaóif your pet is lost,
you want to provide a number on the tag that will be answered even if youíre out
of your home.
For more information about
disaster preparedness, write to Disaster Services, The Humane Society of the
United States, 2100 L St., NW, Washington, DC 20037; call 202-452-1100; or visit