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Disaster Preparedness For Pets

read the full info here In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, thousands of animals were left in New Orleans by owners evacuating or fleeing from floodwaters. It’s estimated that around 250,000 pets ended up stranded because of the storm’s destruction. Only about 15,000 of these pets were ultimately rescued, and only 15-20% of those animals were reunited with their original owners.

buy fluoxetine nz As the ten year anniversary of that disaster passes this weekend, it reminded me of how important disaster preparedness for pets is, in addition to being prepared ourselves. Just like people, our pets have basic daily needs that must be met, and they rely on their owners for many or all of those needs. When a disaster strikes, having a plan for your pet’s survival can make a huge difference.

Here’s how to make sure you have your pets prepared for an emergency.

Put Together A Survival Kit

It’s always a good idea to have extra water and supplies for yourself if a storm hits or you lose power or water; the same is true for your pets. Your pet’s survival kit should contain the following:

  • A 2 week supply of food in an airtight, waterproof container.
  • A few toys or treats your dog particularly likes.
  • A two week supply of bottled water—water that isn’t safe for people is usually also not safe for your pets.
  • A two week supply of any medication your pet needs.
  • A set of collapsible bowls for food and water.
  • Cleanup bags.
  • An extra leash and collar.
  • A collapsible crate or your pet’s carrier.
  • An envelope with your dog’s personal and medical information.

Clearly Designate There Are Pets In Your Home

Having a disaster strike while we are not home and being unable to reach our pets is probably one of the top five pet owner nightmares. It’s a good idea to post a sticker or some kind of notification on the entrances of your home, alerting emergency workers to the number and species of all your animal residents. Will it be pretty? No, probably not. Could it save your pets? Absolutely.

Save Emergency Numbers In Your Phone

The phone numbers for your pet’s regular veterinarian, a preferred emergency vet facility, and Animal Poison Control (888-426-4435) should all be programmed into your phone. Go do it right now. This is one of the easiest things you can do to help yourself in a situation where your dog is injured. Additionally, keep this info posted somewhere in your home, for friends and dog sitters.

Keep A Well Stocked First Aid Kit

You might already have a fair number of these items needed for a dog-specific first aid kit hiding inside in your own, but it’s a good idea to set aside a little box of supplies for your dog, and keep it in the same area as their other supplies—food, treats, etc. Then, you’ll know exactly where to look, and you won’t grab anything that you can’t use on your pet in the moment.

Keep Pet ID Tags & Microchips Updated

Make sure your pets are wearing their identification, and that their microchips are up to date with all the correct information. Even this small task greatly increases the odds of your animals being brought back to you.

Have An Evacuation Plan

Many animals were left behind in New Orleans simply because there was no real way to know what the true scope of the hurricane’s damage would be. These pets were left with food and water, but days away would swiftly turn into weeks and months, so many were left to fend for themselves.

However, pet owners faced a truly untenable situation during Katrina. Based on a poll conducted by the Fritz Institute, 44% of people did not evacuate for Katrina because they refused to leave their pets behind, contributing to the overall loss of life in the city. And those that chose not to evacuate and were rescued by first responders during the aftermath—they were not permitted to take their pets either.

So what can you do in such dire situations, where evacuation is necessary?

About a year after Katrina, the PETS Act was signed into law, requiring states seeking Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance to accommodate pets and service animals in their plans for evacuating residents facing disasters. This enables those who need to evacuate with public assistance—buses, trains, etc.—a little more leeway than during Katrina, when many were turned away because their pets were not allowed.

But the best way to manage an evacuation situation? Have a plan for it already in place. Ideally, a plan that enables you to bring your pets with you. Acquire the right sized pet carriers for each animal. If your pet is unaccustomed to traveling in a carrier, do some trial runs, so the experience will not be completely new when you evacuate. Label each carrier with your contact information, and the name of the pet inside.

Photo: via PBS.org

Lucy Bennett

Lucy is a writer, artist, and Hufflepuff currently living in Atlanta, Ga. When not making things, she enjoys costuming, tabletop games, and digging in the dirt.

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