Emergency Planning for your Pets

The Internet is full of advice and strategies for when SHTF – but one thing that is often left out is man’s best friend. Emergencies affect your entire family – pets included.

The first step is to put together a kit of emergency supplies. Think of it like a bug out bag for your pet. Consider including the following:

• Enough food and water to last three days (keep airtight)
• Medical records and a supply of any medicines your pet takes regularly
• Doggie (or kitty) first aid kit – ask your vet for details
• Backup collar with rabies tag and ID
• Harness/leash
• Documents including adoption papers, registration info, vaccination history, etc.
• Pet carrier/crate (if practical)
• Sanitation items including: newspapers, paper towels, litter/litter box, and plastic trash bags
• A photo of you with your pet
• Familiar items, such as bedding and toys, to help reduce stress

We also recommend including chlorine bleach, which can be used as a disinfectant when mixed with water. Use a 9:1 ratio, or about 8 drops of bleach per 1 gallon of water. Avoid color safe or scented bleaches and let the mixture stand for 30 minutes before using.

Consider making two kits, a larger one for emergencies requiring you to hole up at home and a smaller one for emergencies requiring evacuation.

The second step is to make a plan and consider what actions you will need to take in various emergencies. Remaining levelheaded is often the most valuable skill in an emergency.

In the case of an evacuation, you’ll need to decide where you and your pet(s) are going to go. If a public shelter is your go-to destination, keep in mind that your pet(s) may not be allowed inside.

Do you have family members or friends who would be willing to take your pet(s) in case of an emergency? Ask ahead of time. Other options include pet boarding facilities near to your evacuation site. Make sure to find out beforehand if such facilities will be available during emergency situations.

Establish a buddy system with friends and neighbors. Make sure you have a person picked out who is able to take care of your pet(s) if you are unable to do so. Talk with that individual about your pet’s bug out bag and designate specific evacuation spots – one local and another further away.

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 8.29.54 PMTalk with your veterinarian about emergency plans. Ask for recommended vets in other cities where you may be forced to seek shelter. You may also want to look into microchipping – a permanent implant for your pet that will allow a shelter or veterinarian to identify your animal and get into contact with you.

Gather information about emergency animal treatment. Compile a list of contact info for local animal control agencies and emergency animal hospitals. Include a copy of this information in your pet’s bug out bag(s).

Acquire pets inside stickers and place them on windows and doors to alert rescue workers and firefighters. Include your phone number on the stickers. If time allows, cross out the stickers or write “evacuated” if you leave your home with your pets.

As always, preparation is key. Stay informed about the emergencies likely to affect your area and be prepared to adapt to changing circumstances. Follow all instructions from authorities.

With these easy preparations, you and every member of your family will be less likely to encounter difficulty, worry, and stress should an emergency arise.