Planning for your pet’s safety requires different measures depending on the type of emergency. The plan may be from a brief absence from home to a permanent evacuation. So planning ahead will help to ensure your pets comfort and protection.
There are several steps you can take based on the ASPCA disaster preparedness to be ready for a hurricane emergency. First and foremost do not leave your pets behind. Remember that if it isn’t safe for you it isn’t safe for your pets. It is important to plan for a safe haven and remember that not all Red Cross disaster shelters accept pets. Check on local shelter policies and contact your veterinarian for a list of preferred boarding kennels and facilities. Identify lodging outside of your immediate area that accepts pets and remember to think about friends and relatives in those same areas. Don’t forget to plan ahead in case you are not at home by making arrangements with friends or relatives that are near your immediate area. This emergency caretaker would have a key to your home and be familiar with your pet and where you keep your disaster supply kit. Have a specified location preplanned for them to meet you in the event of evacuation.
While you are arranging your personal family emergency kit you also need to pack a kit for your pet. Supplies would include pet food, a first-aid kit, feeding dishes, photocopies of their up to date medical records with current vaccinations and ID tags. Also remember pet meds, extra collar, harness and extra leash. Bottled water for your pet, blanket, toys, litter, disposable trays and scoop are also important. When planning you need to think about your pet and what you need and use daily. Acquire appropriately sized pet carriers for each animal. If your pet is not accustomed to traveling in a carrier you should do some trial runs.
You may evacuate or you may be home after the storm so consider getting your pet microchipped if you have not done so already. If they become separated from you they can be identified and tracked back to you. Bring your pets indoors at the first sign or warning of a storm or disaster. Pets can become frightened and disoriented and wander away from home during a crisis. Organize an identification file with recent photographs and all important information including a written description of your pet.
Birds should have a secure cage. A blanket over the cage may help reduce the stress of traveling. Also a spray bottle to moisten your bird’s feathers in warm weather will be needed. Be sure to have plenty of liners for the cage and a perch for the bird to grasp. Reptiles need secure housing. Snakes need a sturdy bowl that is large enough to soak in and it may be good to bring along a heating pad or other warming device. Lizards can be transported like birds.
Other small animals such as hamsters and mice can be transported in a secure carrier with bedding materials, food and food bowls. Remember to have an extra water bottle and a week’s worth of bedding.
Remember to evacuate early. Don’t wait for a mandatory evacuation order. Some people who have waited were told to leave their pet behind. For more information and a detailed list of disaster preparedness go to www.aspca.org.