While many people give a thought to their safety when it comes to certain disasters, many do not think about what they would do with their pets. Dealing with pets during an emergency, such as a fire, flood or other natural disasters, could have a major impact on the pet's health or even life. To give pets the best chance of survival should an emergency occur, pet owners are recommended to have a plan ready to go.
Give the Pet an I.D.
There are several ways that pet owners can give their pet an identity. First, pets should have a collar and tags. This includes pets that remain indoors, including indoor cats. The tags are the quickest way to get a pet back to his or her owner. Second, pet owners should consider microchipping their pet. Microchips can provide shelters and other rescuers with ways to contact the owner should they be found without tags. These little devices have a successful record; one study showed that the return-to-owner rate for cats who had been microchipped was 20 times higher while the return rate was 2.5 times higher for dogs.
Plan for Possible Emergencies
Some emergencies are more likely to happen in some places than others. If, for example, the pet owner lives in an area where flooding is a risk, having an emergency plan for this specific situation means that the owner can respond quickly. Further, emergency plans may need to vary depending on how quickly the owner needs to evacuate their residence. If there are several plans, printing out each plan and having it ready to go can help ensure that the pet evacuation goes smoothly.
Identify a Safe Alternative
It is not recommended to leave a pet behind should the owner be required to evacuate. Before any emergency occurs, the owner should find several safe havens where the pet can be taken to. Animal shelters are good places to start but not all will house pets. A veterinarian should be able to provide a list of recommended kennels or boarding facilities that will take pets in the event of an emergency. Some hotels and motels also take pets.
Prepare an Emergency Kit
Everyone should have an emergency kit that they can take with them should they need to leave their home at a moment's notice. This also includes preparing an emergency kit for the family pet. This kit should include a first-aid kit for the pet, an extra food and water dish and photocopies of the pet's medical records. Food storage for pets with up to seven days' worth of food and water should also be nearby. Other items that should be packed include a flashlight, pet blanket and a traveling bag.
Caring for the Pet During and After the Emergency
Following the disaster, the pet may be disoriented and anxious. The pet should be leashed whenever it is taken outside. This includes cats. Pet owners should also be aware that agitated animals can have major shifts in their demeanor and behavior. Some animals may become aggressive or act defensively. Owners should avoid putting themselves into situations where their pet may bite or cause harm to itself.
If the pet cannot be taken from the home at the time the disaster or emergency occurs, it is important to alert rescue workers to the fact that there are animals inside the home. The ASCPA offers an official window decal that tells personnel how many pets are inside the home. This decal is free and may save the pet's life if the emergency occurs when the owner is away from home.
When an emergency occurs, keeping the family safe is of the utmost importance. For many, the family includes the pets. By having an emergency plan in place, owners can ensure that all of their family members will be safe, happy and healthy.