Posted Date: September 10, 2015
September is National Disaster Preparedness Month and it's important to be prepared to care for yourself and your pets in case of an emergency.
September is National Disaster Preparedness Month and everyone with pets should make a plan for what they would do in case of
an emergency. Some of you may be thinking, "Well, I dont live in tornado alley
or I'm nowhere near the coast" and therefore believe you have nothing to worry
about. Others may think of loved ones impacted by the current wildfires, or
know someone who lost everything to a flood or an earthquake. But I bet many of
you don't truly believe it would ever happen to you too. Not really.
Whether or not you are in an area that is prone to a
particular type of natural disaster, everyone everywhere is vulnerable in some
way or another. House and wild fires, chemical spills, ice storms, blizzards, hurricanes,
tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, and other disasters do not discriminate. That's the thing about disasters - they
are unexpected and can happen to anyone anywhere. If we knew when they were
coming, things wouldn't be quite so disastrous. It's the unpreparedness, the
disruption, the chaos that throws everything into a tailspin.
Though you can never completely prepare for a disaster, there
are things you can do to make things a little safer for your pets.
1. Current identification. Microchip your pets,
ensure your register your chip online and get an ID tag and collar for your
pets if they don't already have one. Mark your calendars to update your online
microchip account and ID tags annually. I have deployed twice with the American
Humane Association's Red Star Disaster Response Team following tornadoes and once with the
ASPCA who seized an animal control facility with stolen pets. The few that had
tags and the fewer with microchips were reunited very quickly. The others
waited days to be photographed, examined, logged, and physically identified.
Sadly, most were never reunited with their owners and were placed in new homes.
2. Arrange for a place for your pets to go. Find
out your area's disaster shelter plan for animals, as not all Red Cross human
shelters accept pets. If the disaster is limited to your home or area (such as
a fire), having arrangements with a veterinarian or boarding facility will come in handy.
A list of pet friendly hotels and trusted family and friends who your pet knows
are also excellent options.
3. Pack an
emergency pet bag. Include several days of food and fresh water for each pet,
litter for cats, as well as blankets, non-breakable dishes, and extra leashes
and collars with current ID tags. Be sure to include supplies for all of your
pet species! Also include a flashlight and batteries (stored separately),
cleaning supplies, paper towels, garbage bags, a first aid kit, and hand
sanitizer. In a water proof bag, include clear color photos of your pets for
identification, current medical records, current copies of prescriptions, and a
list of emergency contact information. Mark your calendar to check your supplies and
replace expired food every three months.
4. Write down a plan and share it with loved ones
who you intend to have involved.
I do all of this and I truly hope you will never need it. I've had my emergency bag for nearly seven
years. But I would so much rather make the effort and not need it, than lie
awake in an emergency shelter, wondering where my pets are, and wishing I had
Here's a list of some helpful resources:
ASPCA free safety pack, including a Save My
Pet window sticker
Red Rover Disaster Preparedness Advice
Lists of pet-friendly hotels:
business Jones Animal Behavior, Katenna Jones
provides private dog and cat behavior consulting services and group classes to
New England pet owners, as well as seminars at both local and national events.
Katenna is the former Director of Educational Programs for the Association of
Professional Dog Trainers and has also worked as the Animal Behaviorist for the
American Humane Association and a Behaviorist and Investigator for the RISPCA.
She has been involved in animal sheltering and rescue since 2000, is a disaster
responder and instructor with Red Star Disaster Response and is a consultant
for the ASPCA's Field Investigation Response Team. She is author of Fetching the Perfect Dog Trainer: Getting the
Best for You and Your Dog and has contributed to numerous local and national
publications. Katenna earned her Masters from Brown University where she
studied animal behavior, learning and cognition. She is an Associate Certified
Applied Animal Behaviorist, Certified Cat and Dog Behavior Consultant, and
Certified Pet Dog Trainer. She shares her RI home with her husband,
two adopted cats, and adopted dog.