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Tips to Plan for your Pets in an Emergency

The best way to keep your pets safe during an emergency is to keep them with you. When a disaster strikes, remember that the rules that apply to people, also apply to pets. Preparation makes all the difference and if it’s not safe for you, it’s not safe for them. Some of the things you can do to prepare for the unexpected, such as assembling an animal emergency supply kit, and developing a pet care buddy system, are the same for any emergency. Whether you decide to stay put in an emergency or evacuate to a safer location, you will need to make plans in advance for your pets. Follow these steps to prepare protecting your pets in a disaster:

  • ID Your Pet
    • Make sure that your cat or dog is wearing a collar and identification and municipal dog tags are up to tags and visible at all times.
    • Put your cell phone number on your pet’s tag.
  • Put Together Your Disaster Kit
    • Every member of your family should know what he or she needs to take when you evacuate. You’ll also need supplies for your pet. Stock up on non-perishables well ahead of time.
    • Keep everything accessible and stored in sturdy containers that can be carried easily. Dry pet foods can be stored in air-tight containers and refreshed every 6 months.
    • If you live in an area prone to flooding, make a kit to keep in your car in case you have to evacuate quickly.
    • A basic disaster kit should include: food and water for at least five days including pet bowls and can openers, medications stored in a waterproof container, a first aid kit, cat litter box, cat litter, litter scoop, garbage bags, sturdy leashes/harnesses, carrier crates, blankets, towels, pet beds, pet toys, and written information about your pets medications, feeding schedules, behaviour issues, and your veterinarian information.
    • Keep current photos of you with your pet on your mobile phone or in your purse/wallet should you become separated to prove they are yours once you’re reunited.
  • Find a Safe Place Ahead of Time
    • Find a pet friendly hotel/motel in case of evacuation, and ask about restrictions. Ask pet-free hotel/motels if during an emergency, they will waive policies restricting pets.
    • Make arrangements with friends or relatives
    • Consider contacting a kennel or veterinarians office
    • As a last resort, ask your local animal shelter
  • Plan for Your Pet in Case You are not Home
    • Make arrangements well in advance for a trusted neighbour or nearby friend or relative to take your pets if it is safe to do so.

If you evacuate, take your pet. Remember, if it isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for your pets. Also, plan to evacuate early, do not wait for an evacuation order.

If you stay home, do it safely:

  • Close off or eliminate unsafe nooks and crannies where frightened pets may try to hide
  • Move dangerous items such as tools or toxic products that have been stored in your home
  • Bring your pets indoors as soon as local authorities say trouble is on the way
  • Close windows and doors and stay inside, and follow local emergency instructions
  • If you have a room you can designate as a ‘safe room’, put your emergency supplies in that room in advance
  • If the electricity goes out, keep your pets with you

Keep taking care of yourself and your pets even after the disaster:

  • Don’t allow your pets to roam loose
  • While you assess the damage, keep dogs on leashes and cats in carriers inside the house
  • Be patient with your pets after a disaster
  • If your community has been flooded, search your yard and home carefully for wild animals who may have sought refuge there.

During extreme temperatures keep these tips in mind:

  • Never leave your pets in a parked car
  • Watch the humidity in the heat, and the winds in the cold
  • Do not rely on a fan as they do not cool off pets as effectively as people
  • Provide lots of shade an water in the heat
  • Limit exercise
  • Look for signs of heatstroke (heavy panting, glazed eyes, difficulty breathing, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, profuse salivation) or hypothermia (Paleness, strong shivering, lethargy) and treat immediately

Remember, disaster plans aren’t just for pets. If you’re responsible for other kinds of animals during natural disasters, disaster plans for feral or outdoor cats, horses, chickens, and other farm animals can be life-savers.

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