November 10, 2009

Any emergency preparedness plan needs to account for our beloved animal companions. Some fantastic pointers on what to do ahead of time, in case of a disaster, can be found below. This article is adapted from the work of one of our most favorite animal communicators, Paula Brown. To find out more about Paula’s gift and the services she offers, click here

Have a safe place to take your pets
  • Don’t wait until a disaster happens before you start thinking about where to go. Have a list of pet-friendly hotels and check their policies on size, number of pets. Ask whether ‘no pet’ policies are waived during emergencies. If an evacuation is ordered, call ahead to make a reservation.
  • Better still, have a conversation ahead of time with one or two close friends and see if they would be willing to accommodate you or your pets in the event of an emergency. Ideally, one local and one more distant friend would be good for this task; in the event of a flood or earthquake, your immediate neighbors may be in the same predicament as you and you’ll need to travel elsewhere to reach safety. Ask friends, co-workers or relatives in the area of they would be willing to shelter your animals in case of emergency. Several pets in one household are most comfortable if housed together but be prepared to house them separately.
  • Keep a list of boarding facilities and vets in your emergency kit, along with 24 hr contact information. As a last resort, find out if your local shelter or humane society could accommodate your pet in the event of a disaster.

Assemble a portable pet disaster supply kit.
  • Keep it in an easily accessible place. Include medications, medical records(in a waterproof container), insurance documents, first aid supplies as well as leashes and carriers that would be necessary to transport your pet.
  • Use a permanent marker to write your cell phone number on the leash or carrier that’s in your kit; this is important to make sure you and your pet can re-connect in the event of a separation.
  • Also include current photos of your pets so that they can be correctly identified as yours.
  • A note with your pet’s feeding schedule, medications and other info that a temporary caretaker might need, is also important. On this paper, you can include the name and number of a ‘backup’ caretaker (your chosen friend or shelter) who could accommodate your pet in the event that you become separated.
  • Include enough food for one week if possible, as well as some bottled water and portable bowls. An herbal or homeopathic calmer, or some chamomile teabags to make a tea which you can put in drinking water or food, is also useful for pets who are made anxious by change.

Know what to do as disaster approaches.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute and you are already in harm’s way. A calm, earlier evacuation is much smoother and safer than a last minute, panicked rush. Bring all pets into the house and ensure they are wearing collars with identification.
  • If you aren’t home when an evacuation is ordered, ask a friend or neighbor to take your pets and meet you at an agreed location. This person should be comfortable with your pets, know where they are likely to be, know where your emergency kit is stored and have a key to your home.