Monday, 8 September 2014

FEMA advises public to prepare pets for natural disaster

Photo by Oneris Rico Foter CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
FEMA advises public to prepare pets for natural disaster

American families may be prepared for a natural disaster but are their pets ready? September is National Preparedness Month sponsored by the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the organization is urging the public to prepare in advance for all types of natural disasters.

“You should do the basics to prepare for hurricanes or any other type of disaster – be informed, make a plan, build a kit and get involved,” FEMA Region 6 Administrator Tony Robinson said in a September 8 press release. “We encourage you to take things one step further and make sure you are financially ready too.”




Although many people have disaster plans laid out for themselves and their children, pets can often get lost in the shuffle. It is not only important to have a plan in place for your pet but having a pet disaster kit is vital. The theme for this year’s National Preparedness Month is “Be Disaster Aware, Take Action to Prepare.”

 “Take the steps necessary to make preparedness a part of your everyday life,” FEMA Region IV Acting Regional Administrator Andrew Velasquez III said in a press release. “Prepare for the hazards that are most likely to occur where you live and work. Talk to your family and make a family disaster plan. But don’t stop there. Practice your plan. Practicing in advance of a disaster makes you better prepared to handle any emergency you may encounter.”

Pets should be included in this family. Evacuating the home without the pet should be a worst case scenario. In the event that a pet parent must leave the pet at the home while evacuating never leave a dog chained outside or let cats loose- keep the pets in the home. Provide ample food and water and obtain a ‘pets inside’ sticker or put a sign up notifying people of the pet inside.

To prepare yourself- and your pet- just follow the steps listed below. Act now so you’re pet doesn't end up regretting it later.

Photo by smiteme  Foter CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Create a disaster kit that’s unique to your pet

It is essential to create a disaster kit for the family in case of emergency and the same goes for furry family members. Each kit will be different and very specific to each pet. A senior Saint Bernard is not going to have the same emergency kit as a two year old Maine-Coon. Disaster kits should be waterproof carriers and items packaged inside should be in air-tight waterproof containers. Air-tight bags or Tupperware work great. A basic pet disaster kit should include:
  •  Three days of clean water just for the pet- in addition to the rest of the families water supply.
  •  Three days of pet food, some treats and two collapsible bowls. Keep food in air-tight waterproof containers.
  •  All of your pets records and medical information. Two copies of all records is a recommended precaution. Also recommended is proof of owner ship and recent photos of your pet as well as photos of you with your pet.
  • Two sets of up-to-date identification tags and current microchip information. Any medication that the pet needs as well as flea and tick preventative medication.
  •  A first aid kit that includes bandage tape and rolls, Quick Stop, scissors, sanitary gloves, cotton balls, tweezers, nail clippers, isopropyl alcohol, ear wash, calming treats and a first aid information book.
  • An extra collar or harness and at least two leashes. A coat or boots and a canine life-preserver should also be close by.
  • Poop bags or litter and litter box. Bring a larger empty garbage bag to collect the waste.
  • Bring one or two comforting items that the pet is familiar with to ease anxiety and excitement. A few toys or some bedding that are compact and lightweight is ideal.
  • A pet crate or carrier with your contact information attached. It is preferable to have an extra travel crate that is lighter and more compact- plus it is a great place to store your pet disaster kit.
Photo by alecperkins Foter CC BY 2.0
Form a plan just for your pet

When evacuating a home the most important thing to do is find a safe place to go- for the family and the pets. Most emergency shelters don’t allow pets. So chances are the pet parent will have to pay for their pet to stay in a boarding facility or kennel. Any trustworthy boarding facility will ask that the owner provide proof of up-to-date vaccinations and ownership. Planning ahead for your pet will make an emergency evacuation go faster and smoother.

Create a plan to gather all the pets and contain them. Select an easy to access spot to keep crates and pet carriers and make sure everyone in the household knows where the carriers are located. Form a plan to set up lodging or boarding for your pet. Research kennels in your region and keep a list of them with the phone number, email, address, hours of operation and rates for each one. Make sure your pet’s vaccinations for major viruses are up-to-date and that you have tags and paperwork to prove it. Specifically the Kennel Cough vaccination is mandatory for dogs in most kennels. It is also a good idea to notate any hotels that allow pets.

It is important to gather all contact information for local resources that may help you in event of an emergency and the same is true for your pets. Make sure you have the phone number, email and address for any animal control, Humane Society or SPCA in your area. Gather contact information for all local veterinarians’ offices and notate the ones with emergency services. Make doubles of all of these notes- keep one in sealed waterproof container in your disaster kit.

Three useful websites to keep you prepared can be bookmarked into a smart phone- Weather.govWireless Emergency Alerts and Ready.gov For more detailed information about preparing your pets for specific natural disasters read this PetMD article. FEMA also offers a detailed disaster plan for pets online. Preparing for whatever the weather throws at you can be easy and inexpensive- but knowing your pet is safe during an emergency is priceless.

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