With the unofficial start of summer having just passed on Memorial Day and the coming of the official hurricane season on June 1, it’s time to review everyday safety and emergency strategies for your pet. With the changing global climate conditions, the sad fact is that it now should be a year-round practice to make sure you have an escape plan and fresh supplies on hand to ensure you are ready at a moment’s notice.
Wild fires in the West, severe flooding and increased tornado activity in the Midwest, and the occurrence of 100-year storms every year in the East make it abundantly clear that we no longer have the luxury to focus on emergency preparedness only during designated seasons. We highly recommend that you take the time to review emergency strategies for your pet now before the next flash flood or storm captures you off guard, putting not only you in danger but also your dogs, cats or other family pets.
Beyond pet safety, there is also the safety of first responders. The New York Times reports this morning on volunteer firefighters and nonprofit animal-welfare groups spending their free time on swift-water boats on the flooded streets of Webber Falls, OK, rescuing stranded and water-logged animals that had been left behind. “They’re as important as people as far as I’m concerned,” said one rescuer. We agree. But if everyone had a plan together for their own pet, the good deeds of these selfless volunteers would not be so critical.
While Petswelcome has written extensively about emergency planning, we feel it’s important to keep the subject at the forefront and recommend that you visit our Hurricane Preparedness section. It covers not only hurricanes but other emergencies, too, so you can be confident that you have taken all the measures necessary to be safe. In the meantime, here are some general everyday safety and emergency strategies for your pet:
Have an Emergency Escape Route at the Ready
Flash floods and tornados allow for little time to figure out an escape route once their impact is imminent. That’s why it’s critical to have a route planned and saved so you can utilize it immediately. Petswelcome’s Emergency Route Planner will allow you to create a route to a specific destination, one that shows pet friendly hotels not only at the destination but also along the route. You can save the route and access it on your phone or tablet as you’re heading to safety during the emergency event.
Prepare a Supply Checklist for Pets
Stock up on non-perishables ahead of time and add perishable items before your leave. Keep everything accessible and stored in containers that can be easily carried (duffle bags, plastic containers and even Hefty Contractor Bags). Items should include:
*Medications and medical records
*Leashes, harnesses and carriers to ensure that pets can be transported safely and that they can’t escape.
*A photo of your pet for identification in case it gets lost.
*Food, water, and bowls (along with a can opener). Also, cat litter and litter boxes.
* Pet beds, blankets and toys if you can manage them. They provide a sense of security to a nervous pet.
*Other helpful items include, paper towels, trash bags, grooming items and household bleach.
If You’re Not Home When the Emergency Strikes
Emergencies can strike anytime so make sure you have a plan to get your pet to safety if you’re away from your house. Make plans with a trusted neighbor who is generally at home and who is familiar with your pets. You can arrange to meet at a prearranged location outside the emergency area or, if circumstances don’t allow it, have their cellphone number to make alternate arrangements. You can also make similar plans with your pet-sitting service or pet sitter.
After the Emergency
Never allow your pets to off leash or to roam loose. Familiar landmarks might have been destroyed, increasing the likelihood that your pet could get disoriented, distracted or lost. Try to get them back to a routine schedule as soon as possible and look for any health or stress-related behavioral problems that might require professional care.
With proper planning you can feel secure that you have done everything possible to ensure the best outcome for your whole family in the event of an emergency and/or natural disaster in your area.