If you have a family evacuation plan in case of a local disaster, does that plan include your pets? Or if you raise other animals like chickens, rabbits, cows, sheep, horses or other livestock, what is your plan to insure their survival?
The disasters in the news this week are the wild fires in California. On the national news I’ve seen images of so many peoples homes and businesses have been destroyed. Both domestic and wild animals are being displaced and killed as well.
Even if you don’t live in an area prone to wildfires there are other disaster events you might consider as possibilities to plan for.
- Immediate, localized threats such as a natural gas leak, house fire or chemical spill when a fast evacuation is necessary right now with out much warning.
- Short warning, such as an approaching tornado or severe storm, when you have some time to grab your family, supplies and pets to leave within a short period of time.
- Localized or seasonal disaster your area may be prone to like hurricanes, floods, or forest fires. In many cases, (not all), you will have advanced warning of hours to make preparations.
Also be aware that federal legislation passed in 2006, The PETS Act, authorizes FEMA to provide rescue, care, shelter, and essential needs for individuals with household pets and service animals, and to the household pets and animals themselves following a major disaster or emergency. (Lessons learned after Katrina).
Preparedness checklist for pets
How about putting together a checklist of some things you can do right now to include your pets in your disaster plans. If you have ever been involved in an evacuation from a disaster area, (we evacuated for Katrina), there is no way to plan or hope any local vets, pet boarding facilities or pet sitters are going to be available. They are leaving too. If you need copies of your animals’ records, microchips or carriers take care of these needs now.
- Make sure each of your pets’ ID on their collars that include your name, address and phone number. Should you become separated from them for any reason this will help reuniting with them. Consider too cell phone service and land lines may be down in the effected area so, with permission, consider adding the phone number of a relative or friend who lives outside of your area.
- Have your pets’ microchipped and be sure to register the chip in your name and provide additional phone numbers.
- Have copies of your pets’ microchip information and contact information for the microchip company in the event your pets get lost.
- Have current photos and detailed description of your pets in case one of them is lost they can be easier to be identified.
- Buy carriers appropriate for your pets’ sizes and they carriers should sturdy and easy to transport. We have had good luck finding used carriers at flea markets, garage sales and Goodwill stores.
- Any medications that your pets may need you should have on hand at all times at least a one-month supply.
- Keep your pets’ vaccination records current and make sure you have copies in your bug out papers file.
- Your choice of evacuation destinations may be limited due to your pets so research what hotel chains are typically pet friendly ahead of time. If you’re heading to a relative or friends home make sure they are willing to accept your pats as well.
- Try and see if a local vet or animal shelter offers basic a animal first aid class and if so consider putting together a basic pet first aid kit.
- Periodically check your pets’ collars to make sure they fit properly and tags are securely fastened. If the collar can slip over a pet’s head when you pull on it, you may lose him if he panics and pulls back from you.
Put together a dedicated storage container such as a plastic tote or 5 gallon bucket or back pack, (AKA Pet Bug Out Kit), loaded with the following items so you can just grab it and go. Mark so it’s easily identified as pet stuff and store it where it’s out of the way but easily accessible if you need to grab and go. If you have multiple pets you may want to have separate containers for each animal, your decision. Sometimes smaller kits are easier to move and store the one big one.
So, here is our list, look it over and add or subtract items that might be specific to your pets or situation.
- A roll of paper towels
- A pet-friendly cleaner / sanitizer (in case of an accident in car or room)
- Trash bags, tall kitchen garbage bags are just right size
- Small plastic bags to pick up poop, cheap zip lock?
- A old blanket or two
- Pet’s first-aid kit, (if you or someone in family knows how to properly use).
- Two family size cotton towels
- A pair of work gloves and several pairs of disposable gloves as well
- Extra leashes and high visibility collars for each animal
- A small bag of cat litter, small litter box & a scoop
- Food & water bowls, as need for pets
- Can opener and spoon
Food, water and treats should be stored separately and rotated several times a year to ensure freshness. We keep a couple of small bags of both cat & dog food on the garage shelves next to their bug out kits and always have gallons of water stored nearby that are easy to grab and run if we need to.
Emergency Preparedness for Livestock
Unfortunately my experience is limited when it comes to offering guidance on planning ways to protect your livestock in an emergency situation. If anyone out there has experience dealing with protecting livestock or a basic plan please feel free to share.