By Patty Schaller
If the recent natural disasters taught pet owners anything it’s that we must plan for our pets’ safety in a disaster. Depending where you live, you could find yourself in a hurricane, tornado, flood, earthquake, wildfire, mudslide, snowstorm, or ice storm. Any of these situations could mean evacuating, or hunkering down at home without utilities, water, or phone service for several days.
The American Red Cross strongly recommends that you be prepared and act early, especially when you have pets. Have a disaster plan and supplies ready.
At the first sign of dangerous weather, make sure your pets are safe indoors. Dogs tend to run away when frightened and cats tend to hide. Put your cat in a carrier, so when you need to leave, you won’t have to search for your kitty-in-hiding.
If authorities are even considering issuing an evacuation order, that’s the time to get you and your pets out of town. Know ahead of time where you would go and know who would take care of your pets. Most emergency shelters can’t take pets other than service animals, and animal shelters may be too crowded, so planning is imperative – make sure you have someone to care for your dogs or cats. Getting out early means you’re less likely to get stuck in one of those epic traffic jams that make national news.
One of the most important things you can do for your pet’s safety is make sure he is wearing a pet ID – this goes for cats too. Your pet, as well as his carrier, should have ID. Ideally, your pet should have a microchip. Pet ID tags can come off but a microchip is permanent. Your pet is much more likely to become separated from you in a disaster, and proper ID may be the only chance your pet has of coming back home.
Whether you evacuate or stay home, you need to have a Disaster Preparedness or Emergency Supplies Kit on hand — for you and your pets. You can buy a complete emergency kit for cats or dogs, which is very convenient, or you can assemble your own. Here’s what you need for your pet:
- — A pet first aid kit and first aid kit
- — Phone numbers of family, friends, animal shelters, veterinarians
- — Medical records stored in waterproof container
- — Food and water: 3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home. A manual can opener if feeding canned food.
- — Portable food and water bowls
- — Bedding, blanket, and toys to reduce stress
- — Your dog’s or cat’s favorite treats
- — Leash and harness
- — Pet carrier
- — Pet sanitation supplies: portable litter box and litter for cats, newspaper for dogs, and plastic bags to dispose of the waste.
Here in Southern California we live with the possibility of earthquakes. Preparedness is the best way for our pets and us to survive.
Until next time, happy tails to you!