One of the many lessons we should have learned from Hurricane Katrina is that everyone needs an emergency preparedness plan that include their pets. Even though more than 8,000 animals were rescued, reunited or REHOMED, many families lost their rescued pets because they could not be identified and returned to them. A pet emergency preparedness kit is an integral part of that plan.
A pet emergency preparedness kit should be ready to grab and go. If faced with an emergency evacuation, you will not have the time to look for those items that are vital to your pet’s survival. Check items with expiration dates regularly and rotate when necessary. A backpack or small duffle bag will work well as a kit. You should keep it with your first aid kit.
Your kit should include:
1. Emergency contact card. The card should contain current phone numbers as well as an out of area contact. Phone lines and other means of communication can be affected by an emergency. If you become separated from your pets, your out of area contact may be the only way you are reunited with your loved ones.
2. An extra set of collars and leashes. A well identified pet has a better chance of returning home. Contact information on the tags should be current and readable. Microchip and tattoo registries cannot help if you are not in their databases anymore. Keep the membership updated.
3. Health Record. Your veterinarian will issue a health certificate upon request. It contains general information and vaccine history. Copies of diagnostic tests, results and prescription information are recommended for pets with chronic health conditions. It will allow your pet treatment with an unfamiliar veterinarian.
4. A months’ supply of medications. This is a rotated item. Veterinary medications may be hard to come by in an emergency. After Hurricane Katrina, for example, vet hospital’s medical inventories were commandeered. That means their medical supplies and medications were used to treat people. In ANY emergency situation, the protocol is “people over pets”. Certain medications, such as Insulin, need refrigeration. Cold bags are available at most outdoor stores and supermarkets.
5. A laminated photo of you WITH your pets. This photo establishes ownership.
6. Foot protection. If there is ground contamination, they will prevent absorption of toxic materials through your pet’s pads.
7. A months’ supply of food. This is a rotated item and is particularly important if your pet is on a special diet. Like medications, pet food may be hard to come by in an emergency.
8. Bottled Smart Water or unflavored Pedialyte. An evacuation or emergency is a very stressful event. Replacing lost electrolytes can prevent shock.
9. Collapsible food and water dishes. They take up very little space.
10. Sanitation and cleaning supplies. This includes waterless sanitizers, paper towels, and poop bags for dogs and a litter pan for cats. A Frisbee makes a good litter pan.
11. Anything that has the “smell of home” on it. A toy, unwashed pillow or blanket. It will give your pet comfort.
If faced with an evacuation, take your pets with you. You cannot assume that you will be home in a few hours. Plan a route that includes pet-friendly evacuation locations. This could include boarding kennels, pet-friendly hotels and family members’ home outside your immediate area. Practice loading your pets into crates and your vehicle. You don’t want them frightened should the real deal happen. You can also start a buddy system with a trusted neighbor. If you are away from home, then your buddy can evacuate your pets.
The Boy Scouts said it best.” Always be prepared. “When natural and man-made disasters occur, our pets can’t prepare for themselves. We need to do it for them.
Note: United Animal Nations sells a Personal Animal Disaster Planning Handbook at their store. It can be ordered for $3 at www.uan.org/store.