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Disaster Preparedness for Pets

pet disaster preparedness

If a flood, fire, hurricane or earthquake should strike are you prepared to take care of your pets? We suggest a Pet Disaster Plan, which includes making up a PET SURVIVAL KIT that is stored somewhere you can locate it in a hurry. Here are some tips that will give your pets the best chance of surviving whatever nature throws your way.

If You Evacuate, Take Your Pets

The single most important thing you can do to protect your pets is to take them with you when you evacuate. Animals left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Animals left inside your home can escape through storm-damaged areas, such as broken windows. Animals turned loose to fend for themselves are likely to become victims of exposure, starvation, predators, contaminated food or water, or accidents. Leaving dogs tied or chained outside in a disaster is a death sentence.

If you leave, even if you think you may be gone only for a few hours, take your animals. Once you leave, you have no way of knowing how long you'll be kept out of the area, and you may not be able to go back for your pets.

Leave early-don't wait for a mandatory evacuation order. An unnecessary trip is far better than waiting too long to leave safely with your pets. If you wait to be evacuated by emergency officials, you may be told to leave your pets behind.

Good Pet Identification

Make sure your pet has a good and current ID tag and it is up to date.

Your pet will probably survive a disaster even if they are separated from your family, but will you never see them again or will they join the legions that wind up at the pet shelter. That's why pets should always wear a collar and identification tags.

Microchip Your Pet

Ask your veterinarian about permanent identification that can't slip off, such as a tattoo or implanted microchip. We recommend Datamars 15 digit ISO Standard 11784 pet microchip as it conforms to the world standard and is the most slim microchip on the market today. It is essential that you register your pet's microchip and enter current contact information for you. allows for FREE registration and updates for the life of your pet with their registered microchip.

As a part of your disaster kit, make up a temporary ID tags to put on your pet if you're forced to evacuate. The information on your pet's permanent ID isn't of much use if you aren't home to answer the phone. We suggest using the type of key tags that you can jot a current number on, along with perhaps a cell phone number or the number of a relative.

Medical Information

Place in the kit your pet's current medical and shot record. During a disaster your pet may come in contact with sick animals, contaminated water or disease carrying insects. Be sure to include the name and phone number of your pet's veterinarian.

Make up a complete set of medical records, pet identification numbers, your veterinarian's name and phone number, your pets feeding instructions, and a recent picture of your pet. Leave these duplicate records with a pet-loving friend. It's a good idea for someone else to know about your pet should anything happen to you, even in a more common crisis such as an auto accident.

What else to include in your pet' disaster kit

In addition to the above, your kit should contain pet restraints for your car and a leash. Harnesses work better than collars at keeping panicky pets safe, but pet crates work best of all. A pet cargo crate would be a nice addition especially for cats as they will keep pets safe and give you more options for housing your pet away from home.

Your kit should contain a muzzle even though your pet is normally < gentle and friendly. Frightened or injured, dogs and cats are more likely to bite.

Keep several days' worth of food and drinking water as well as any necessary medicines packed in your disaster kit. If your pet eats canned food, be sure to keep an extra can opener and spoon tucked in among the emergency supplies.

Carry a photograph of you and your pet to help in locating them if you become separated.

Make a reservation

Because many evacuation shelters don't accept pets (except for service animals), you must plan ahead to ensure that your family and pets will have a safe place to stay. Don't wait until disaster strikes to do your research. Contact your city or county to find out where their pet friendly shelters are located.

You can find thousands of pet friendly hotels on that will provide accommodations for you and your pet.

Contact hotels and motels outside your immediate area to check policies on accepting pets. Ask about any restrictions on number, size, and species. Ask if "no pet" policies would be waived in an emergency.

Make a list of pet friendly places and keep it handy. Call ahead for a reservation as soon as you think you might have to leave your home. Check with friends, relatives, or others outside your immediate area. Ask if they would be able to shelter you and your animals or just your animals, if necessary.

If you have more than one pet, you may have to be prepared to house them separately.

Make a list of boarding facilities and veterinary offices that might be able to shelter animals in emergencies; include 24-hour telephone numbers. Ask your local animal shelter if it provides foster care or shelter for pets in an emergency. This should be your last resort, as shelters have limited resources and are likely to be stretched to their limits during an emergency.

The day of the storm

When disaster strikes, always keep your pet with you. If it isn't safe for you to stay put, it isn't safe for your pets either.

Hurricanes, floods, wildfires, hazardous material spills-disasters can strike anytime, anywhere. If you think you will never have to evacuate unless you live in a flood plain, near an earthquake fault line or in a coastal area, you may be tragically mistaken. It is imperative that you make preparations to evacuate your family and your pets in any situation. In the event of a disaster, proper preparation will pay off with the safety of your family and pets.

More information on Disaster Preparedness for Pets.

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