In the event of a natural disaster, your primary goal is to keep everyone safe—including your pets.
“If the conditions are not safe for you, they are not safe for your pets,” says Russell Hartstein, CEO of Fun Paw Care, in Los Angeles. “Never leave an animal behind.”
That’s why you need to include your pets in your disaster safety and evacuation plans. Here are some tips to help with this process.
Know where your pet hides
“You need to know where they usually sleep and where they hide, so you can get them quickly if needed,” she says.
“Find out if family, friends, pet-friendly hotels, boarding facilities, and/or veterinarians could take your pet, if needed,” Mandell says.
Your advanced planning should also extend beyond your immediate area. You might have to evacuate to another county or state, so research some veterinarians and kennels in neighboring areas as well, and find out what kind of supplies or food you need to bring.
Hartstein recommends printing out a copy of the disaster-preparedness list in case your power goes out during the disaster. Keep as many items as possible in waterproof bags and containers (including dry food).
He also recommends that you include the following items in your disaster-preparedness kit:
- Copies of your pet’s medical records and veterinary information
- Food and water
- Collapsible food and water bowls
- Water-purifying tablets and filters
- Manual can opener
- Cloth towels and paper towels
- Pet first-aid supplies
- Bug spray (pet-friendly)
- Sunscreen (pet-friendly)
- Life jacket/vest (if you live in a flood-prone area)
- Dog crate
- Dog bed
- Special toys or comfort items
- Leash, collar, harness
- For dogs, poop bags
- For cats, litter box and kitty litter for at least one week
Make your pet easy to identify
If you need to leave your pet in a shelter or you’re inadvertently separated, try to make identifying and tending to the pet as easy as possible. That means making sure your pets are microchipped and have an ID tag on their collar.
“Keep photos and a description of your dog in your disaster kit, as well as in the cloud,” says Hartstein. “Include detailed markings of your pets, which can help you locate them if they become lost or you’re separated.”
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