Emergency Pet Preparedness
As I’m sure many of you have, I’ve spent much of this week watching Hurricane Florence approach the East Coast. I grew up in Mobile, where hurricanes were a fairly frequent occurrence, and have weathered more than I care to recall, but Florence has me worried. My husband and I have spent a lot of time on the phone encouraging friends and family in the storm’s path to come down and spend a few days visiting with us, and to bring their pets with them. We want everyone to be as safe and as well cared for as possible in situations like these. Florence’s approach has also reminded me that we need to make sure we have all of our emergency plans for our family, including the furry four-legged members, up to date.
Remember, during a disaster what’s good for you is good for your pet, so make sure your entire family is ready.
-Obtain “Pets Inside” stickers and place them on or near your front door, including information on the number and types of pets in your home to alert firefighters and rescue workers.
Consider putting a phone number on the sticker where you could be reached in an emergency. And, if time permits, remember to write the words “Evacuated with Pets” across the stickers, should you flee with your pets.
-Make sure all pets wear collars and tags with up-to-date identification information. Your pet’s ID tag should contain his name, telephone number and any urgent medical needs. Be sure to also write your pet’s name, your name and contact information on your pet’s carrier.
-Because tags and collars may come lose and leave your pet without ID, a microchip provides an inexpensive permanent form of identification that’s safe and effective for all pets. Have your pet microchipped and make sure that you not only keep your address and phone number up-to-date, but that you also include contact info for an emergency contact outside of your immediate area.
-Create a buddy system in case you’re not home when an emergency strikes. Ask a trusted neighbor to check on your animals.
-Identify shelters. For public health reasons, many emergency shelters cannot accept pets though pet friendly shelters are available nationwide. Pet-friendly evacuation centers accept more than just cats and dogs. They also accept birds, ferrets, gerbils, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, rats and rabbits. Pet owners must be prepared to care and maintain control over their pets at all time. In order to avoid injury to response personnel or the public, owners are required to: maintain their pets in a crate, on a leash or otherwise controlled, and may be asked to muzzle aggressive or anxious pets.
-Find pet friendly hotels along your evacuation route and keep a list in your pet’s emergency kit. Ask if a ″no pet″ policy can be waived during emergencies.
-Locate boarding facilities or animal hospitals near your evacuation shelter.
-Consider asking an out-of-town friend or relative to care for your animals.
-Locate a veterinarian or animal hospital in the area where you may be seeking temporary shelter, in case your pet needs medical care. Add the contact information to your emergency kit.
-Make sure you bring proof of vaccination with you. If you are unable to return to your home right away, you may need to board your pet. Find out where pet boarding facilities are located. Most boarding kennels, veterinarians and animal shelters will need your pet's medical records to make sure all vaccinations are current.
-Build a Kit
• Store an emergency kit and leashes as close to an exit as possible. Make sure that everyone in the family knows where it is, and that it clearly labeled and easy to carry. Items to consider keeping in or near your “Evac-Pack” include:
• Pet first-aid kit (ask your vet what to include)
• 3-7 days’ worth of canned (pop-top) or dry food in an airtight container (be sure to rotate every two months)
• Liquid dish soap and disinfectant
• Disposable garbage bags for clean-up
• Pet feeding dishes and water bowls
• Extra collar or harness as well as an extra leash
• Photocopies and/or USB of medical records and a waterproof container with a two-week supply of any medicine your pet requires (Remember, food and medications need to be rotated out of your emergency kit—otherwise they may go bad or become useless)
• At least three days’ worth of bottled water for each person and pet (store in a cool, dry place)
• A traveling bag, crate or sturdy carrier, ideally one for each pet
• Recent photos of your pets (in case you are separated and need to make “Lost” posters)
• Especially for cats: Pillowcase, toys, scoop-able litter, Disposable litter trays (aluminum roasting pans are perfect)
• Especially for dogs: Extra leash, toys and chew toys, a week’s worth of cage liner
Especially for birds: Birds should be transported in a secure travel cage or carrier. In cold weather, make certain you have a blanket over your pet’s cage. This may also help reduce the stress of traveling. In warm weather, carry a spray bottle to periodically moisten your bird’s feathers
Especially for Reptiles: A snake may be transported in a pillowcase, but you should have permanent and secure housing for him when you reach a safe place. Take a sturdy bowl that is large for your pet to soak in. It’s also a good idea to bring along a heating pad or other warming devise, such as a hot water bottle.
Especially for Small Animals: Small animals, such as hamsters, gerbils, mice and guinea pigs, should be transported in secure carriers with bedding materials, food and food bowls. Make sure you have a salt lick, extra water bottle, small hidebox or tube, and a week’s worth of bedding with you.
You should also have an emergency kit for the human members of the family. Items to include: Batteries, duct tape, flashlight, radio, multi-tool, tarp, rope, permanent marker, spray paint, baby wipes, protective clothing and footwear, extra cash, rescue whistle, important phone numbers, extra medication and copies of medical and insurance information.
If you have no alternative but to leave your pet at home, there are some precautions you must take, but remember that leaving your pet at home alone can place your animal in great danger. If you leave your pets behind, they may be lost, injured – or worse. Confine your pet to a safe area inside - NEVER leave your pet chained outside! Leave them loose inside your home with food and plenty of water. Remove the toilet tank lid, raise the seat and brace the bathroom door open so they can drink. Place a notice outside in a visible area, advising what pets are in the house and where they are located. Provide a phone number where you or a contact can be reached as well as the name and number of your vet.
Weekly Wish: Next week our staff will be going through Dogs Play For Life training, a program designed to get shelter dogs out of the shelter to play! This helps dogs physically get exercise and mentally be happier and healthier. They learn proper socialization and get real dog-to-dog time shelter dogs normally do not get when stuck in a kennel. But to ensure everyone is playing safely, we need a few Martingale collars. These can be purchased online or from any local pet store and can be delivered to the shelter at 1140 Ware Drive any time during normal operating hours.