How to Prepare Pets for a Disaster
A comprehensive disaster plan along with a disaster kit can help you respond quickly and make it easier to recover from various natural disasters, including hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and fires. But don’t forget your pets! They need a disaster plan and kit, too. Photo by Susan Collins-Smith
Although June 1 marks the beginning of hurricane season, there can be many kinds of environmental disasters. Natural disasters, including straight-line winds, tornadoes, fires, and floods, are all uncontrollable events that can happen at any time. A comprehensive disaster plan along with a disaster kit can help you respond quickly and make it easier to recover from one of these events.
But don’t forget your pets! They need a disaster plan and kit, too.
Identification and regular check-ups are important to keep your pet prepared for an emergency. Make sure they always wear identification, including a collar with your current contact information. A microchip provides permanent identification and can help you get your pet back if he or she loses their collar. Keep their vaccinations and preventive parasite medications up to date. These steps are crucial if pets need to stay in a shelter or become lost.
Create a disaster kit specifically for each of your pets. No matter what kind of disaster it is, you’ll be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice or shelter in place.
Basic items to include:
- Kennel or Crate
- Food and water for a minimum of 3 days
- Food and water bowls
- Collars and leashes
- Muzzle or gauze to make a muzzle
- Sanitation items
- First aid kit
- Pet comfort items
- Photo of the pet
- Important documents: emergency telephone numbers, rabies vaccination certificate, vaccination record, microchip information, drug/vaccine/food allergies, list of current medications with doses, etc.
Keep these supplies in a waterproof container that is easily transported.
If you need to leave home, make sure to have an evacuation plan with your pets in mind. It will save you lots of valuable time. Identify and make a list of evacuation facilities that are available, along with contact information for each. Make sure they allow your pets to stay at the facility along with you. If you plan to evacuate to a hotel or to a family member’s home, check to make sure it is okay to bring your pets. Contact your local emergency management agency to find out what the animal disaster plan is for your area.
Extension publication 2989, “Disaster Preparedness for Your Pets,” contains more in-depth information about disaster plans and kits for pets.
For more information about disaster preparedness for your pets, visit the Mississippi State University Extension Service, Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) websites.
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