June is National Safety Month with a focus on emergency preparedness. When making plans for an emergency, don’t forget to include your pets. Remember, our pets depend on us for their safety.
During severe weather, be sure to bring you pets in, not just when it is cold. Some pets are frightened by thunder and lightning. When frightened, pets can present behaviors you normally do not see. They can dig under a fence, jump a gate, or even chew through their enclosures. If a tree or tree limb falls on the fence, your pet can escape and, in the chaos of a storm, become lost. The easiest way to prevent this from happening is to bring your pet in during severe weather. There are, however, some situations where this is not possible. In those cases, make sure your pet is wearing a collar with a current ID tag so that you can be contacted if your pet is found. You can even have your pet micro-chipped for added safety. If you choose to have your pet micro-chipped, make sure you keep your information updated in the system. Just keep in mind, current, easily accessed tags are much more likely to be used to reunite a missing pet with his family immediately as compared to microchips that must be read by a vet or animal shelter. On the flip side, collars and tags have the potential to become damaged or lost. Using both options offers better protection for your pet.
If a weather event or other emergency event is severe enough to warrant an evacuation, plan ahead for both your family and your pet. While many public shelters will not accept pets, if it is not safe for you to stay behind, it is not safe for your pet to stay behind either. Other arrangements may need to be made. If you develop an evacuation plan in advance, you have the opportunity to secure safe accommodations for your pet. You can choose to shelter your pets with friends and family or you can attempt to find hotels that will accept your pets. If you plan far enough in advance you can also seek advice from your veterinarian for appropriate lodging. Your vet may be able to recommend boarding facilities or other vet clinics within a network that can offer services for partnership clients. Your vet may be part of a formal or an informal co-op of vet clinics that offers boarding privileges. You never know until you ask, so ask before an emergency occurs.
While you are discussing evacuation planning with your vet, it might also be a good time to secure a copy of necessary medical and vaccination records for your pet emergency evacuation kit. Place your copy of this information in a waterproof container along with a current photo of you and your pet. The photo should be taken fairly close up so that your pet is easy to recognize. The photo should be easily reproducible. You can use a paper copy or you could even use a data card. This photo could be invaluable if your pet is lost both as a visual representation of what your pet looks like as well as proof of ownership. Replace the photo frequently so that it is always up to date.
Additional items to place in your emergency evacuation kit include:
- Pet first aid kit
- Leashes, harnesses, and carriers
- Food (can opener if needed)
- Drinkable water
- Water and food bowls
- Litter pan and litter
- Pet beds (if transportable)
- List of feeding schedules, behavior problems, and vet’s name and number in case you have to board your pets.
While nobody looks forward to an evacuation level emergency, if you are prepared, you can save all of your family, pets included. Preparations make all the difference in an emergency.