National Preparedness Month: Preparing Animals for Disaster

by: Michelle Fulleda

Whether you are a dog person, a cat person or an all around animal lover, your animal(s) is probably an important part of your family and life. If you own or keep animals, you have a duty to take care and protect those animals, so having an emergency disaster plan for them is part of your responsibility.The chances of survival for your animals depend on the planning you do before a disaster, such as a storm or fire, occurs.

Animals, especially dogs, can hear thunderstorms before humans and may show signs such as becoming anxious by hiding and vocalizing. If your pet gets  nervous and poses a risk during thunderstorms, contact your veterinarian for advice on the situation. Just like the emergency kit you have for you and the other members of your household (http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/get-kit), you should have an emergency kit for your pets/animals.

The kit should include:

  • ID
  • Collar
  • Leash
  • Potable water
  • Food
  • Bowl
  • Medication and First Aid
  • Crate or pet carrier
  • Sanitation
  • A picture of you and your pet together
  • Familiar items (toys, treats or bedding)

Your Animal Instincts: Fight or Flight?

Deciding whether you and your household members are going to stay put or evacuate during a disaster depends on the circumstances and severity of the situation. If you do have to evacuate, arrange a safe place for you pets. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND. If it is not safe for you, it is not safe for your pets. Contact hotels, motels or emergency shelters ahead of time to confirm arrangements for you and your pets. You can also ask friends, relatives or others outside the affected area if they could shelter your animals.

After the disaster, your animals can be physically or mentally affected. It is important to keep an eye out for any strange behavior and contact your veterinarian if the behavior persists.

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