At 10:21 today, I heard the siren. I normally hear it every Tuesday at noon, but today was different. It was part of the Great California Shake Out. That reminded me that we all need to be prepared for an emergency.
Are you and your pets ready for a disaster? It doesn’t matter if it’s a hurricane, earthquake, tornado or flood. We all need to be prepared for surviving at home or in the event of an evacuation.
I think most of us remember the horrors of Katrina and what happened to the pets people were forced to leave behind. Even though many pets were rescued, a good portion were never reunited with their people. Since then, Congress has enacted the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act (PETS Act). This act helps to ensure that State and local emergency services to address the needs of families with pets and service animals in the case of an emergency. The PETS Act authorizes FEMA to provide rescue, care, shelter, and essential needs for individuals with household pets and service animals, and to the household pets and animals themselves following a major disaster or emergency.
Be aware that the Red Cross shelters do not accept pets, so you’ll need to make other arrangements in that case. Many motels and hotels will allow pets for evacuees, so be sure to check.
Living in earthquake country means we have to be ready all the time. We never know when the next big quake will hit. We have discussed plans about what we will do in an emergency. Everyone should do the same.
Before Disaster Strikes: Identify Your Pet
- Keep your pet’s license current.
- Make sure that collar and identification tags are worn at all times.
- Consider having a safe, permanent microchip implanted in your pet. This type of ID cannot fall off or be removed. Most veterinarians offer microchipping services to their customers.
- If your pet is already microchipped, make sure that you register with the manufacture’s database, and remember to notify the company if you move or change phone numbers.
Crate Train Your Pet
- Train your pet to enter his/her carrier or crate at your command. Try putting your pet’s favorite treat in his/her carrier and sounding a bell at the same time. Repeat this process every day, until your pet comes running at the sound of the bell. Continue this routine often enough to keep it fresh in your pet’s mind. This training will be extremely helpful when locating a frightened animal.
- Also important — make sure your pet is comfortable being handled.
Prepare a First Aid Kit — Include:
- large and small bandages
- cotton swabs
- antibiotic ointment
- hydrogen peroxide (to induce vomiting or clean deep wounds
- elastic tape
- eye wash (saline)
- ear-cleaning solutions
- K-Y Jelly (water soluble)
- any special medications prescribed by your veterinarian
Secure Bird Cages and Aquariums
Because these items may move and/or break during a disaster; securing them on low stands or tables is advisable. Tighten the latch on your birdcage so that the door cannot be shaken open easily.
Develop a Neighborhood Plan
- Get to know your neighbors and their pets.
- Keep an updated list of their home and work phone numbers (remember to update these frequently).
- Select a neighborhood coordinator who will be ready to assist should a disaster occur when you are not at home. Make sure this person spends much of their time at home, or that they work within walking distance of your neighborhood.
- Select one or two backup coordinators in case the primary person is not available.
If Your Pet Is Lost
- Immediately call or visit the nearest animal shelter to report your missing pet.
- When it is safe, return to your neighborhood to post or distribute Lost Pet posters. Be sure to include your name, home address and home and work phone numbers. It’s always helpful to include a current photograph of your pet.
- Continue to search the area for your missing pet. A frightened animal can stay hidden for days.
- Call neighbors and service workers, such as mail carriers, police, firefighters and PG&E workers for leads.
If You Find a Lost Pet
Notify your local animal shelter as soon as possible. Be prepared to give a full description of the animal. Include breed, color, and sex and the location where the animal was found. Remember that sick and/or injured animals can become unpredictable from fear and pain, and should be handled only by professionals with proper equipment.
In Case of Evacuation
Red Cross shelters do not accept pets. Prepare a list of back up arrangements, such as homes of friends and family, hotels that allow pets, boarding facilities, veterinarians and/or shelters.
It is generally not recommended that you leave your pet behind during an evacuation. If you must, follow these guidelines to help ensure your pet’s safety.
- Post a highly visible sign in a window to let rescue workers know how many pets were left behind.
- The date you left on front door with chalk, paint or marker.
- Leave plenty of water in a large, open container that cannot be tipped over.
- Leave plenty of food in timed feeders (check local pet supply stores). These will prevent your pet from overeating.
- Do not tie or cage your pet! The chances for survival are greater if he/she can escape easily.
Pet Disaster Kit
A prepared disaster kit, kept in a safe and easily accessible place, will enable you to provide immediate care to your pet in an emergency. A calm, well-trained pet, who is either on leash, or in a carrier, will be more welcome wherever you go.
Items to Include:
- Sturdy crate and/or pet carrier;
- Identification tags and collars;
- Food and water (a 7-day supply for each pet);
- Non-spill bowls;
- Litter box and litter;
- Any special medications;
- Manual can opener and plastic lid;
- Copy of your pet’s vaccination history;
- Recent photos of each pet;
- Pet First-Aid book;
- Pet First-Aid kit;
- Phone number of a local emergency veterinary hospital;
- Phone number of your local animal shelter for emergency services 24 hours a day, seven days a week);
- Long-term confinement equipment: chains, cable-runs, tie out stakes, portable caging
- Large plastic bags for pet cleanup; and
- Emergency phone numbers: ( ) _____________________ and ( ) _____________________.
This form will be listed under disaster plan under the main header.
Since you were patient enough to read through this serious subject, I’ll leave you with a humorous video to lighten the mood.