Pet Preparedness

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Chocolate  Lab swimming in a lake

Countless disasters have shown that pet owners can quickly become a vulnerable population in the face of a natural disaster or emergency. Should you stay at home with your pet? Should you take your pet with you? Where can you go with your pet? Should you leave your pet behind?

It is extremely important for the safety of pet owners and pets, to have a plan for caring for pets during a disaster. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) helped provide emergency shelter and care for more than 8,500 animals displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Following Hurricane Sandy, the ASPCA assisted more than 30,000 pets in New York and New Jersey. It is estimated that 30 to 40 percent of the people who refused to leave their homes after Hurricane Katrina were staying to care for their pets, and over 600,000 pets were killed or left without shelter. If you evacuate your home, take your pets. Plan ahead and do not leave them behind. Pets most likely cannot survive on their own, and if by some remote chance they do, you may not be able to find them when you return.

Identift pet friendly sheltersWith pets, the best way to protect your furry, scaly, or slimy family member is to plan ahead. They can’t do it for themselves and so it is up to you to have an emergency plan in place for your pets.

In many emergency situations, people will risk their lives to stay behind with their pet. If you think it through and prepare in advance, you will know what to do in order to protect yourself, your family, and your pets.

Things you can do:

1)      Pet-Friendly Shelters. Not all shelters accept pets. Before an emergency, make sure you figure out where you will go that is safe for you and your pet. Find out which hotels are pet-friendly, and make sure you look into hotels in your community (for short-term needs) and hotels out-of-town that are pet-friendly in case you have to evacuate. Contact your vet for a list of boarding kennels and facilities that will be open to taking pets in an emergency.   Does your local animal shelter provide emergency shelter or foster care for pets? Find out!

2)      Designated Caregivers. There are a few reasons why it is a good idea to identify friends or relatives that will be willing to care for your pet if you are unable to do so. You may not be home when an emergency occurs, so line up a neighbor or friend that can check on and care for your pets. Also, ask friends and relatives outside of your immediate area if they would be willing to take in your pet should you have to evacuate.

pet emergency kit checklist3)      Emergency Kit. Before you find yourself in an emergency situation, pack a pet emergency kit so that you are ready to care for your pet if a disaster hits. Pack 3-7 days worth of pet food (dry or canned), bottled water, medications, veterinary records, a pet carrier, litter and disposable litter trays, manual can opener, food dishes, first aid kit, and other supplies with you in case they’re not available later. For a complete list, see our Ready Wrigley pet emergency kit supply list.

4)      Vet records and identification. Keep paper copies of your pet’s vet records in a safe and accessible place. Make sure identification tags are up-to-date and securely fastened to your pet’s collar. Pet-friendly shelters, kennels, or boarding facilities that you arrange ahead of time will need to be able to identify your pet and know your pet’s medical history.

5)      Microchip your pet. If you are separated, this is the best and easiest way to be reunited with your pet! A typical microchip costs around $45, but shelters and organizations often hold events where the cost is much cheaper.

6)      Download the Pet First Aid App from the Red Cross, or the ASPCA app.

ASPCA sticker7)      ASPCA sticker. Get a free pet emergency alert sticker for your home. The ASPCA stickers are used to make sure rescue workers know that you have pets inside your home, the types of pets, and your vet information.

Pets rely on you to care for them every day and you rely on them for comfort and companionship. Don’t let an emergency or disaster prevent you from caring for or separate you from your pets. Have a plan, get a kit, and be prepared for your pet’s safety as well as your own.

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Page last reviewed: May 20, 2015
Page last updated: May 20, 2015