Disasters can happen anytime, anywhere and can take many different forms.If a disaster strikes, do you have a disaster plan?Companion Pet Services, Inc. encourages all pet owners to create a disaster plan.
Planning for disasters is the best way to protect your family, and as a pet owner your disaster plan must include your pets.
Allison Cardona, director of disaster response for the American Society for the Protection Against Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), said that most people don’t believe that a disaster could ever happen to them, but people need to know what natural disasters are possible in their geographic regions, have a disaster plan in place and practice their plan.
If a hurricane is about to make landfall, there isn’t time to figure out what to bring and where to go.People should already know where they are going and have the supplies on hand.
“The best way to survive a disaster is to prepare for a disaster,” Cardona said.“People need to research pet-friendly hotels and shelters and create portable disasters kits for all the people and all the pets in their family.”
When disasters strike, people can be displaced from their homes for just a day or for several weeks.It is essential to a pet’s well being to compile the following supplies in a portable container and keep the container in an accessible location:
• A crate for each pet that is large enough for the pet to stand up and turn around in.
• Food and water dishes.
• A file on each pet that contains health history, vaccination dates and a recent photo.
• A leash and collar with all pertinent information on the tags readily available. This will include pet’s name, rabies tag and contact phone number – remember to include your cell phone number since you will not be at home.
• An ample supply of food, water and medication for the pet with specific feeding and medication instructions written out in clear handwriting.
• Remember that you can not predict Mother Nature. You may be evacuated much longer than you had originally thought. Pack enough supplies for an extended stay. If you don't need them, great! You can keep them on hand in case of another emergency situation.
• A muzzle and harness is a good idea in case behavior becomes less than desirable for the place you are staying. The pets may be put into close contact with many new pets they do not know and they may have to be cared for by people they do not know.
• Flashlights, batteries, trash bags, baby wipes, newspapers and paper towels should be included if pets either get sick or go to the bathroom while in their crate.
It’s best to also formulate a plan in case disaster strikes while you are away from home and cannot reach your pets.
“Ask someone who is already familiar with your pets, especially their hiding places, to care for your pets if you are unable to reach them,” said Cardona.
Someone could be a trusted neighbor or a professional pet sitter. Companion Pet Services, Inc.is a member of Pet Sitters International, the world’s largest educational association for professional pet sitters.PSI members have access to the most extensive benefits, including PSI’s Accreditation Program which includes extensive and thorough training on disaster planning.
Whether evacuation is necessary or not, be sure that pet’s stick to their normal routine to help restore normality. Cardona suggested that a comfort item (a favorite toy or blanket) be brought for each pet to help them relax and adjust to their new, temporary environment.
Once returning home, Cardona suggests that pets be allowed time to acclimate themselves to their surrounding since things could be extremely different from the last time.
“Start small, allow pets to explore small areas with supervision and then gradually expand the area,” advised Cardona.
A proactive approach to disaster planning is the best way to ensure the safety of everyone and every pet.