Emergencies of any kind can strike in an instant, sometimes without any warning. Depending on where you live, you and your pets may be more susceptible to various kinds of natural disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, or wildfires. In some cases you may need to leave your house at a moment’s notice, so it is important to be sure that you are prepared to care for your pets during these scary situations.
If evacuation is the only option, bring your pets with you if at all possible. You are best equipped to care for them, and if the situation is dangerous for you, it will be dangerous for your animals as well.
Pre-Evacuation Preparation Prior to evacuating, familiarize yourself with places that will allow pets during an emergency. In some instances, temporary public shelters will not allow animals inside. Keep a list of nearby pet-friendly motels or hotels, or plan to stay with a friend or relative who you know will let you bring your pets.
Even if you don’t normally travel with your pets, it is a good idea to familiarize them with using a crate or carrier. If they are already comfortable with a crate or carrier, the easier it will be to get them in quickly and the less anxious they will be during transport.
Another good way to prepare is to have your pets microchipped. If you are somehow separated from your pets, vets can scan the microchip and obtain your contact information, making it easier to reunite you with your lost loved ones.
What to Take When evacuating your home, remember to take: At least one weeks supply of food and water for your pets; Medications, if your pets take any medication; Copies of your pets’ vaccination records and other pertinent medical records; Your pet insurance policy, if you have one; Photos of your pets in case they are separated from you (digital photos on your phone or tablet will also work)
What if I'm Out of Town? If you are away from your pets when a disaster strikes, a good idea is to establish a plan with a neighbor or nearby friend who can take care of your pets in your absence. You should provide this individual with phone numbers to reach you, as well as all the necessary instructions to take care of your pets. Included in this should be a signed authorization for veterinary care and the financial limits to veterinary care.
After Evacuating Once you and your pets have safely evacuated, be sure to keep a close eye on them. Cats should be confined to one room or a small indoor area to allow them to acclimate to their new surroundings. Give them plenty of time to rest and become comfortable in their new environment. If possible, provide them with familiar toys and comfort items (beds, blankets, etc.)
Emergencies can be incredibly stressful on your pets, and as a result some animals may display unexpected or uncharacteristic behaviors. If your pets remain very anxious or develop other behavioral or health problems, consult with your veterinarian.
Hopefully you and your pets will never find yourselves in situations such as these. However, it is important to have plans in place just in case the worst does occur. It will save both you and your pets a tremendous amount of stress, and will give you the peace of mind that you can take care of your pets in a disaster if need be.
References Medicine, Center for Veterinary. “Take Care of Your Pets Before Disaster Strikes.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/animal-health-literacy/take-care-your-pets-disaster-strikes.