|Photos by Andrew Frelick|
So, I turned to my personal guru, the fount of all knowledge, the great and omnipotent, the purveyor of all things factual - the internet. And I read several articles and watched many videos on the subject because honestly, I didn’t know what to do either. I am no expert by any stretch. The amount of useful information on the internet is staggering, and I would like to share some of what I found. There are lots of links for you to check out!
The sites agreed on one thing for sure. Put a sign or decal on the house. This sign should have written on it the names, number and kinds of pets in the house – for example 2 budgies; Henry and Sally, 3 cats; Scamp, Buffy and Mittens and 1 dog: Rex. This alerts emergency workers who to look for if you have to leave any pets behind. Also, if you have to leave without your pet(s) don’t leave your animal confined in a carrier or tied up. They stand a better chance of survival if they are mobile. And please don’t just set them free to fend for themselves. Setting animals free is not recommended. It is dangerous for them and dangerous for rescue workers. Your pet may be completely docile and loveable at home with you, but in a disaster pets are scared to death, hungry and sometimes hurt. No one can predict what behaviours will exhibit in those circumstances.
If you leave the house with pets in tow (which is recommended) simply write evacuated across the decal so the animal rescuers can move on without wasting time looking through your house, or the rubble of your house.
New meaning for the term, ‘doggie bag’?
Another item agreed on is a bug out bag for each pet because unless your critter is a service animal helping you with a disability it likely won’t be allowed in a people shelter. So, depending on the situation, he may have to be left at an animal shelter or with a friend who lives in a safe place.
Stock the doggie bag with health information, water, food for a week, toys – generally much of the same things you would put in your own. There were several lists available on the net and they vary somewhat in specifics, but there is one example HERE from the BC SPCA ..... and HERE on a personal blog.
There is a very detailed article by the Humane Society of Canada that you may be interested in adding to your reading list. It was written mindful of terrorist attacks, but you can insert your disaster word each time it says ‘terrorist attack’, and the advice is valid. Skip through to sections on pets.
The American SPCA includes details for birds, reptiles and pocket pets in their disaster plan.
I’m going to close with this video slide show of some of the pets left behind during Katrina. Maybe it will be motivational and remind folks to include family pets in prepping plans.