June is National Pet Preparedness Month
A little preparation goes a long way in an emergency and having a "go bag" will help you keep calm and evacuate quickly.
This is especially important if you have the added responsibility of pets. Emergencies come in many forms, and they may require anything from a brief absence from your home to permanent evacuation. Each type of disaster requires different measures to keep your pets safe, so the best thing you can do for yourself and your pets is to be prepared.
If you already have a "go bag" or evacuation pack, use this month as an annual reminder to replace old food and medication and to update photos and emergency contact information.
If you haven't created a bag, use this list to help get you started:
- 7 days worth of food (rotate regularly and if you use canned food, buy cans with a pop-top)
- 7 days of bottled water (rotate regularly)
- Medication (rotate regularly)
- Food/water bowls
- Extra collar, harness, and leash
- Clean up supplies (pet cleaning solution and paper towels)
- Plastic bags (to serve double duty as garbage and poop bags)
- Toys and chews
- Copies of medical records
- Contact information for local veterinarians, pet friendly hotels and shelters, and out-of-town family members willing to take in your pets
- Recent photo for making lost posters
- First aid kit with pet-specific supplies
For more information on preparing your canine family for natural disasters, visit the ASPCA web site.
Some things to Keep in Mind
- 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.
- 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.
- Call your local emergency management office, animal shelter or animal control office to get advice and information.
- Most boarding kennels, veterinarians and animal shelters will need your pet's medical records to make sure all vaccinations are current.
- Create a buddy system in case you’re not home. Ask a trusted neighbor to check on your animals.
- 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.
- The ASPCA recommends micro-chipping your pet as a more permanent form of identification. A microchip is implanted under the skin in the animal’s shoulder area, and can be read by a scanner at most animal shelters.
- Get a Rescue Alert Sticker from ASPCA-This easy-to-use sticker will let people know that pets are inside your home. Make sure it is visible to rescue workers (we recommend placing it on or near your front door), and that it includes the types and number of pets in your home as well as the name and number of your veterinarian. If you must evacuate with your pets, and if time allows, write “EVACUATED” across the stickers. You can order a free emergency pet alert sticker for your home, ASPCA Free-pet-safety-pack and allow 6-8 weeks for delivery. Your local pet supply store may also sell similar stickers.
- 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.
Tips for Large Animals
If you have large animals such as horses, cattle, sheep, goats or pigs on your property, be sure to prepare before a disaster.
- Ensure all animals have some form of identification.
- Evacuate animals whenever possible. Map out primary and secondary routes in advance.
- Make available vehicles and trailers needed for transporting and supporting each type of animal. Also make available experienced handlers and drivers.
- Ensure destinations have food, water, veterinary care and handling equipment.
- If evacuation is not possible, animal owners must decide whether to move large animals to shelter or turn them outside.
Take extra time to observe livestock, looking for early signs of disease and injury. Severe cold-weather injuries or death primarily occur in the very young or in animals that are already debilitated.
Animals suffering from frostbite don’t exhibit pain. It may be up to two weeks before the injury becomes evident as the damaged tissue starts to slough away. At that point, the injury should be treated as an open wound and a veterinarian should be consulted.
Make sure your livestock has the following to help prevent cold-weather problems:
- Plenty of dry bedding to insulate vulnerable udders, genitals and legs from the frozen ground and frigid winds
- Windbreaks to keep animals safe from frigid conditions
- Plenty of food and water