I live in central Virginia, just 30 miles from the epicenter of the recent east coast earthquake. As the house shook for what seemed like an eternity, my baby and my pets were my very first thought. At the same time, many of my family members who live in the coastal southeast were preparing for the potential landfall of Hurricane Irene. I hope their thoughts are also including their four legged friends.
Obviously, we don’t all live in areas prone to earthquakes and hurricanes, but other disasters can strike us all at any time. Tornados, house or wild fires, floods and blizzards can be just as devastating to our lives, and being prepared in advance can help you remain calm in the face of disaster. Keep in mind that your family’s disaster plan should include your pets.
The whole kit and caboodle
Put together an evacuation kit. This should include vaccine records for each pet, records of test status (Feline Leukemia/FIV, heartworm, etc), and a list of medications with dosages. Store this with your pet’s first aid kit. The first aid kit should contain bandages and bandage scissors, antibiotic ointment, eye rinse, alcohol prep pads and tweezers. If a disaster strikes, the last thing you will want to think about is where you put Spot’s rabies certificate!
Don’t leave it to chance
If an evacuation order is issued, evacuate as soon as possible. Biding your time will only cause congestion on already busy evacuation routes, and if you are seeking room at a local shelter, you may lose your spot. Make sure each pet has identification and his own cage. Many disaster shelters will not accept your pets if they do not have their own cage.
When you evacuate, do not assume that you are leaving for a short time. Even if you think the threat of disaster is low, anything could happen. It is common in disaster areas for owners to not be able to return to their homes for days or weeks. Do not evacuate without your pets!
A chip on their shoulders
In my opinion, the one single most important thing you can do for your pets to prepare for a disaster is to have them all microchipped. Only 16% of dogs and 2% of cats who show up at shelters are reunited with their owners. Making sure your pet has a microchip can significantly increase the odds that you will live happily ever after together if you are separated.