There is a wealth of information about what we can do every day to make sure our animal companions have safe, healthy and happy lives. This is where we share what we consider some of the more valuable suggestions, recommendations and just plain neat stuff about pet care. Read on.
During and after Hurricane Katrina, it became heartbreakingly clear how important it is to be prepared for emergencies or disasters that might require us to evacuate our families, including our pets. There are simple, common-sense measures you can take to ensure the safety of your pets if you have to move quickly. Here are some important guidelines from the American Red Cross (www.redcross.org), Humane Society of the United States (www.hsus.org) and other pet-wise resources to help you be ready to evacuate your pets in time of natural disaster or national emergency:
- Have a plan in place for evacuating your family and your pets. Put it in writing, and have several copies of this information in case you have to house your pets separately. Each adult member of your family should have a copy of this information.
- Keep your pets’ vaccinations up-to-date and documented. Again, have several copies of this information in case you have to house your pets separately.
- Know in advance where your pets can go -- whether it’s a friend or family member, pet-friendly hotel, animal shelter, or temporary evacuation facility. There are also a number of publications, web sites and travel guides that list pet-friendly hotels/motels. Include your local animal shelter's number in your list of emergency numbers -- they might be able to provide information concerning pets during a disaster.
- Have written documents concerning your pet's feeding schedules, as well as any special medical and/or behavioral conditions. Include the name and number of your veterinarian. Again, have several copies of this information in case you have to house your pets separately.
- Include the names, addresses and/or phone numbers of any alternate contacts on your pets’ ID tags, microchip registrations, and licenses.
- Prepare a Pet First Aid Emergency Kit and don't forget to include items such as leashes, collars, harnesses, extra ID tags, bottled water and food bowls, 2 weeks of food and medications/supplements, health records, cat litter and litter pan, can openers and current photos of your pets to prove ownership. Include portable pet beds and toys if you can easily transport these items during an emergency. Be aware of any expiration dates for medications and food items and replace these items in your Emergency Kit as required.
- Have on hand portable carriers large enough for your pets to stand and turn around in. There are many collapsible models on the market.
- In your first-aid kit, include your vet's contact information and your written authorization to treat your pets. Include a list of local emergency veterinary clinics and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (www.aspca.org/apcc) phone number, 1-888-426-4435 (24 hours a day, every day).
- Gather any relief plans developed by your local Red Cross chapter; local emergency management agencies; police, fire, health, wildlife and/or agriculture departments. That way you will know immediately where to turn for specific resources in the event of an emergency.
- Always keep your pet(s) in a collar or harness and on a leash. Even the most loyal, trusted and well-trained pets can panic in an emergency and run away.
- Keep your Pet Evacuation Plan and Emergency items in containers, duffel bags or other travel cases, so that you can grab-and-go when an emergency is imminent or has already occurred.
- Be Prepared Today! Take a Pet First Aid course. The American Red Cross offers them at many local ARC chapters. Consult your veterinarian or local emergency readiness organizations today for more information and ideas to prepare for possible evacuation before a disaster strikes.