Every family needs a disaster plan; if that family has pets, their safety must be ensured as well. Here are some constructive things to consider when designing your emergency plan:
- If you must evacuate your home, the most important thing you can do is evacuate them, too. Do not leave them behind!
- Check out motels/hotels in the surrounding areas that accept pets.
- Contact relatives or friends outside of your area to give shelter to your pets.
- Contact boarding facilities/veterinarians that shelter animals in emergencies; keep their 24-hour phone numbers on hand.
- Local animal shelters should be your last resort, as they are usually overburdened.
Have a “Pet Disaster Kit” ready: leashes, carriers, their picture (in case they get lost), food, bottled water, bowls.
Planning ahead will help with a fast evacuation, but remember, animals react differently under stress than humans.
- Keep dogs leashed; cats in carriers.
- Don’t leave them unattended. They may bite or scratch, when normally they would not react aggressively.
- Upon returning home, give them time to settle back into their routine.
We hope these pointers will help all of us be aware that our “best friends” are part of our families, and their safety should be considered, too.
American Red Cross