Pet owners share a unique bond with our animal companions, and we consider our pets cherished family members. Preparing for a disaster is a vital part of being a pet owner. When extreme weather or other disaster strikes and you’ve got to evacuate yourself and your loved ones quickly, a pet emergency preparedness plan is helpful. Having a plan can replace the chaos of an emergency with calmness, which will help your pet feel settled and safe.
When you receive the evacuation order, it doesn’t leave you much time to think. The following are practical steps to prepare yourself for a disaster so you can evacuate your family and pets safely and efficiently. You should have an emergency kit for yourself and your family and one for your pet.
Pet emergency kit checklist
Let’s begin with a checklist to help you get started with your pet disaster preparedness plan before you need it:
- Microchip your pet and ensure the registration is up to date. The Humane Society reports that you’ll increase your chances of being reunited with pets who get lost by having them microchipped.
- Have a collar with an ID tag that includes your contact information.
Pet emergency kit:
- Food and water to last at least three days
- Medications, medical records, vaccination documentation
- Leash and harness
- Litter box and litter (for cats)
- Poop bags (for dogs)
- Pet first-aid kit
- Recent photos of your pet (in case they get lost)
- Sturdy, safe pet carrier
- Car safety harness
- List of pet-friendly hotels or friends and relatives outside your immediate area
- Information about local animal shelters and veterinary clinics
Evacuating with pets
The following are the steps you might take when it’s “go time.”
- Find your pet: When there’s danger in the air, some pets have a keen sense that something is not right, and they may retreat to their favorite hiding spot in or around your home.
- Grab your pet emergency kit: Just like you have an emergency kit for you and your family, you need one for your pet that includes all the essentials such as food, water, medication, and first aid supplies.
- Transport your pet safely: Use a pet carrier or a leash to keep your pet secure and prevent them from escaping amidst the chaos of the evacuation.
- Identify a safe place to bring your pet: Not all emergency shelters will accept pets, so plan and locate pet-friendly accommodations.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you practice evacuating with your pet. Train your pet to get in and stay in their carriers, and transport them in the crate you would be evacuating in.
How evacuation impacts some pets
Pets tend to thrive on their routines, so an evacuation can cause pets to experience stress, fear, and anxiety. They may end up in unfamiliar environments with loud noises, strange people, and chaos around them. You must comfort your pets during an evacuation and reassure them that everything will be OK soon.
Ready.gov suggests developing a buddy system with neighbors, friends, or relatives to ensure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you cannot.
The process of evacuating with pets can be challenging, but when you have prepared your pet emergency kit checklist, you’ll be better able to navigate the situation more effectively. Our pets rely on us for their well-being and safety, so when we take these steps to protect them in an emergency, we fulfill our responsibility as pet owners.