We see so many natural disasters happening around us today and it serves as a reminder that we should always be prepared for anything. For those of us who own dogs and other pets, our plans and preparations should include them too.
Our dogs depend on us to keep them safe. Having a good emergency plan can help to ensure that you, your family, and your pets will remain safe. The best time to think about this is before a disaster strikes. Proper planning is the key to keeping your dog safe when a disaster occurs.
Here are some tips to help you prepare for a disaster.
Plan for both yourself and your dog.
Prepare for two different possibilities:
- having to stay in your home for several days without help
- having to evacuate with your dog
Both plans should include supplies, food, and medications. Know where the safest parts of your home are. Create an evacuation plan to include several escape routes if you need to get out of the house and leave.
Do your research.
Choose multiple destinations and plan several escape routes leading to those destinations. You never know when a particular route will become impassable. It is always a good idea to practice those routes whenever you can so you know exactly what to do if you need to find a detour.
Have a backup plan.
Designate someone who can go to your house and get your dogs in the event that you are away when a disaster strikes.
Practice emergency situations with your dog.
Have practice drills for the types of emergencies that could occur in your area. Include your dog and try to work on doing things quickly. Include home drills, such as taking cover in a protected area of your home.
Stock up on supplies.
Keep a disaster supply kit for your dog in a convenient location in your home. Supplies should include:
- a readable map (highlight your evacuation routes)
- waterproof containers (for food and medications)
- plenty of water
- collapsible carriers or crates
- a good first aid kit
Check supplies regularly.
Check expiration dates on medications and food. Remember that certain medications can become ineffective or toxic after they expire. Food can spoil, and even water may need to be replaced. Check your supplies and replace anything that needs to be replaced.
Review your preparation plans regularly.
You may need to update your destinations and your escape routes. Your maps may also need to change to reflect these updates.
Maintain your vehicle.
Follow your vehicle’s maintenance schedule and keep up with necessary repairs. Always try to keep gas in your vehicle so your are ready to go at a moment’s notice.
Maintain contact with local authorities.
Stay up to date with your local emergency management office and local dog clubs. In times of emergency, these local authorities will be in charge. They will be the ones to make decisions and emergency plans, and will be responsible for informing people. It is also a good idea to keep in touch with local dog clubs since they will usually have emergency information relevant to dog owners.
Crate train your dog.
This is one of the best things you can do for your dog. In case of an emergency or a disaster, you should be able to put your dog in her crate right away, and without any trouble.
Know where to take your dog.
Find out ahead of time, where you will be taking your dog during and after the disaster until you can return safely home.
Make sure your dog has identification.
Your dog should have an ID tag fastened to her collar. It should have your cell phone number since you will have that with you at all times. You will also want to have a copy of your dog’s insurance information, if you have any. Keeping a copy of proof of registration or ownership is also recommended. So is a photo and description of your dog, should you become separated.
Leave your house promptly.
As soon you have know that you have to evacuate, leave your house! Do not wait until the last minute to get out. Be absolutely sure that you and your pets will be safe before returning home.
One good thing to note is that following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Congress passed the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act (PETS). It was signed into law in 2006. Now, any state seeking assistance from FEMA must have a plan to accommodate pets and service animals in their evacuation procedures.