Pamala M. had some great insight into pet preparedness in response to our Saving Pets During a Disaster post. We decided to feature her tips in her own post:
Ensuring that your animal is properly tagged and micro-chipped will go a long way in recovery of an animal that hides or flees in fear during a disaster event. It will also prevent accidental euthanasia of your pet as a “stray” or unowned animal! But, being able to contact the owner of the animal is also critical…
1) Assign an alternate emergency number to a person you would call or contact outside of your area if you had to evacuate…possibly in another state. Do not assume that your veterinarian’s office will survive a disaster event.
2) Do not assume your cell phone number will benefit you if you are in a disaster event. Cell towers may be compromised, just as LAN line can be. This is another reason why the alternate number is critical.
3) Keep your pet’s shots up to date! ALL OF THEM! This protects the general public that could have contact with your pet and it protects them in a situation where they are exposed to strays running loose or kenneled in a shelter with animals that have unknown health/vaccination backgrounds. It can save your pet’s life from diseases such as rabies, parvovirus, and distemper!
4) Keep a first aid kit in your vehicle, not just with supplies for yourself, but also for your pet. If your pet is injured or bleeding and needs care, muzzling may be necessary to provide that care. This can be accomplished with ace bandaging, small rope/cord, electrical tape, or first aid tape.
5) Other items to keep in your vehicle: flashlight with extra batteries; a leash or rope; small tarp, and a small blanket. These items can be used to locate victims, restrain an animal from leaving once captured, the tarp can provide a means of emergency shelter and waterproof surface to lay on, secured by the rope. The tarp can also be used as a drag device to slide a victim or animal to a safe area if too heavy to carry. Lastly, the blanket provides warmth to prevent shock and hypothermia.
6) Load pictures of your animals onto a central website such as Facebook, Yahoo!, or other networking website if not already available to a microchip recovery organization like HomeAgain Companion Animal Recovery system.
7) Your pet can usually survive quite a while without food, but will die without a good supply of water. Plan to carry enough water in your vehicle for the people and pets in your household for 3 days time (1 gallon/person/day)
If you have the ability to evacuate your animals completely out of a disaster area to be kenneled elsewhere for a period of time, that is ideal. If you must return, return at first without the animals to lessen the burden on your community and protect the animals from lack of resources. Have a plan on where you can take your animals and a backup…many municipal shelters outside an affected area have the ability to provide emergency placement services, expand capacity for disaster recovery. Ask for foster assistance.
I hope these hints help.
Pamala M. currently works with rescues and animal non-profits in the Dallas, TX area. She has provided support for wildfire/ flooding operations for the American Red Cross in West Texas, and has supported recovery efforts for Hurricanes Andrew, Katrina, Rita, and Ike.