In the event of an emergency such as fire, flood, hurricane, tornado, earthquake, terrorist attack, financial collapse, rioting, or any type of emergency scenario, the likelihood that you and your pets will survive largely depends on what amount of emergency planning you have done ahead of time.It’s too late to prepare properly once the emergency happens. Some things have to be ordered and require shipping time to arrive, other items that you previously could buy off the shelves might not be available if everyone else who hasn’t prepared makes a run for the same items too. Also there might not be time to prepare if something happens unexpectedly. What you prepare for now is, in all probability, what you will have during an emergency.
Some of the things you can do now to prepare your pets for the unexpected, such as assembling a pet emergency preparedness kit and developing a pet care buddy system, are the same for any emergency.
For help with creating your pet emergency preparedness kit CLICK HERE
Whether you decide to stay put in an emergency or evacuate to a safer location, you will need to make plans in advance for your pets. Keep in mind that what’s best for you is typically what’s best for your pets.
Do you know where you would go in the event of an emergency that required evacuation? If not then find out now!
Many emergency shelters do not allow pets. Some communities have groups that have solely focused on providing emergency sheltering for pets, and other communities simply don’t have the resources. That’s why you should never assume that you will be allowed to bring your pet to an emergency shelter. Before disaster hits call your local office of emergency management to see if you will be allowed to evacuate with your pets and that there will be shelters that take people and their pets in your area.
Identify pet friendly locations in case of the need to evacuate. Don’t wait until disaster strikes to do your research.
- Contact hotels and motels outside your immediate area to check policies on accepting pets. Ask about any restrictions on number, size, and species. Inquire if the “no pet” policies would be waived in an emergency. Keep a lists of “pet-friendly” places handy. Call ahead for a reservation as soon as you think you might have to leave your home.
Here’s an online resource for pet-friendly hotels:
- Ask friends, relatives or others outside your immediate area if they would shelter you and your animals, or just your animals, if necessary. If you have more than one pet, be prepared to house them separately.
- Make a list of veterinarians and boarding facilities who might shelter animals in emergencies; include 24-hour phone numbers.
- Ask your local animal shelter if they provide emergency foster care or shelter for pets in an emergency. This should be your last resort, as shelters have limited resources and are likely to be stretched to their limits during an emergency.
- Write down all of the addresses and phone numbers, print out driving directions to each place in case phone service is out and GPS systems aren’t working. Keep all of this information in your pet emergency preparedness kit.
In Case You’re Not Home
An evacuation order may come, or a disaster may strike, when you’re at work or out of the house. Find out if a trusted neighbor would be able to take your pets and meet you at a prearranged location. If so, be sure that the person is comfortable with your pets, knows where your animals are likely to be, knows where your disaster supplies are kept, and has a key to your home. If you use a pet sitting service, they may be able to help, but discuss the possibility well in advance.
Put a decal on a front window or by your front door alerting emergency responders to the presence of animals in your home.
Also write out detailed pet care instructions on cards and display them in a prominent location that will be easy to spot like on the refrigerator door or someplace in the immediate line of site upon entry into the home so emergency responders or caretakers will know their feeding instructions, medications, where things are kept, the name and number of your vet and also the name and number of your designated contact to take care of your pets if something should happen to you. Obviously this needs to be worked out ahead of time.
Keep a duplicate set of instructions in your car in an easy to find place such as taped to one of the visors so if something happens to you while you are in your car emergency responders will know you have pets that need to be taken care of and their instructions. Police say that the glove box is often damaged and not accessible so don’t put it in there. Laminating the cards is also a good idea.
Do you have an emergency plan in place for different emergency scenarios?
What would you do in case of fire, flood, earthquake, tornado, hurricane, etc? Make a plan that includes how to escape from your home, and what to take with you. Create a checklist of what to do and what to take. Practice your evacuation. Then practice it with a blindfold on. In most emergencies, power will be out, so you’ll be grappling around in the dark. You should attempt to evacuate within ten minutes, and if you can do it in five, you’re ready for anything!
After the Emergency
Don’t allow your pets to roam loose. Familiar landmarks and smells might be gone, and your pet will probably be disoriented–pets can easily get lost in such situations. Walk dogs on a leash and keep cats inside (or in carriers, if your house is damaged and they could escape). Be patient with your pets after a disaster. Try to get them back into their normal routines as soon as possible. Be ready for behavioral problems that may result from stress.
Pet Emergency Preparedness Tips From the Research and Training Center on Independent Living at the University of Kansas