Why is it important to take your pets with you during an evacuation? If it’s not safe for you, then it’s not safe for them. Additionally, there is no guarantee you can go home in a couple of hours. It was several weeks before the residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina were able to come home. During that time more than 8,000 animals were rescued, but 600,000 are still missing or confirmed dead.
If you look hard enough, you can find a silver lining in any circumstance. Hurricane Katrina’s silver linin is The Pet Evacuation and Transportation Standard of 2006. It requires that any State and Local Government receiving Stafford Act Homeland Security funding include household pet evacuation planning in their Emergency Operation Plan. FEMA acknowledged that it would serve the population well to have STRUCTURED animal rescue in addition to human rescue. Planning for pet evacuation will expedite the evacuation of people. Statistics show that pets are the main reason people return home while it is still unsafe. This also places first responders at risk as they re-rescue the same people. Each state is issued a charter to develop an animal response team. It is largely made up of volunteers.
People who plan for an emergency fare better than those who don’t. The best plan is to PLAN to be far away.
Plan a four directional driving route. Plan each direction 100 miles out. It won’t help to only plan a northern route if the evacuation order is to go south. Know where the pet-friendly hotels are along each route. Calling ahead will secure your reservation. There are several internet sites to help you: www.pet-friendly-hotels.com, www.petswelcome.com and www.bringyourpet.com.
If family members evacuate separately, designate a meeting place or have an out of area contact for everyone to check in with. In addition, you can set up a buddy system with a trusted neighbor or friend. If one is out of the area, the other can evacuate all the pets. Please check on elderly or housebound neighbors before you leave.
Turn off your utilities: gas, water and electric. As long as it is not during an evacuation, your local fire department can show you how to do it. If you have time, secure your home.
To evacuate quickly, it’s important to have prepared kits ready to go.
Keep some old blankets, flashlight with extra batteries or glowsticks, energy bars, bottled water and a first aid kit in your car at all times. Keep your gas tank full.
EVACUATION FIRST AID KIT FOR BOTH PEOPLE AND PETS:
- Constricting bands. Local wildlife, including venomous snakes may be displaced. They will pose a hazard.
- Honey packets or canned frosting if anyone is diabetic.
- Puplights. This is a lighted collar. It makes it easy to see your pet in the dark.
- Liquid cap antihistamine and a safety pin. In the event of severe allergic reaction, you would pierce the liquid cap and squirt it directly onto a tongue.
- Baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, activated charcoal along with poison control’s number for both people and pets.
- Sterile eyewash. Used to clean out eyes and injuries.
- Hydrogen peroxide to clean out animal bites.
- Rubbing alcohol, gauze, vet wrap, band-aids and antibiotic ointment.
- Plastic card to flick out bee stingers.
- Bandanas for limb injuries.
- Muzzles. A pet in pain will bite.
PET EVACUATION KIT:
- Emergency Contact Card. List current phone numbers as well as an out of area contact. Phone lines and other means of communication can be affected by a disaster. If you become separated from your pets, your out of area contact may be the only way you are reunited with your loved ones. This card can also have a signed consent to treat in your absence.
- An extra set of collars and leashes. A well- identified pet has a better chance of returning home. Tags need to be secure and readable. Tags though can become lost. Microchips and tattoos are better, but only if you keep the registration current.
- Health record. Your veterinarian will issue one 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 immediate treatment with an unfamiliar vet.
- Two weeks supply of medication. Watch expiration dates. Veterinary medications may be hard to come by in a disaster. In any emergency situation, the protocol is “people over pets”. Veterinary medications may be commandeered from vet hospitals for use for people. Certain medications, such as insulin need refrigeration. Cold bags are available at most supermarkets.
- A laminated photo of you with your pets. This photo establishes clear ownership.
- Foot protection. If there is ground contamination, they prevent absorption of toxic materials through your pets’ pads.
- A week’s supply of food. Watch expiration dates. Like medications, pet food may be hard to come by. It is a stressful event and changing their food may cause stomach distress.
- Bottled smart water or unflavored Pedialyte. Replacing lost electrolytes due to stress can prevent shock.
- Collapsible food and water dishes.
- Sanitation and cleaning supplies. This includes waterless sanitizers, paper towels, poop bags for dogs and a litter pan for cats. Any lid can be a litter pan.
- Something with the “smell of home” on it. A toy, unwashed pillow or blanket. It will give your pet comfort.
- A plastic molded travel crate for each pet. Practice loading your pets into them.
YOUR EVACUATION KIT:
- Non-perishable food.
- Bottled water.
- Dust masks.
- Maps or GPS.
- Manual can opener.
- Plain bleach and medicine dropper. To disinfect: nine parts water to one part bleach. To treat drinking water: 16 drops per gallon of water, let sit for 30 minutes.
- Prescriptions and glasses.
- Any important documents such as birth certificates or passports.
- Blankets and weather appropriate clothing.
- Battery operated radio.
- Anything that is specific to your needs such as baby supplies.
Take a pet and human first aid class. These are perishable skills. You need to take these classes every two years. To find a pet first aid instructor, go to www.pettech.net. To find a human first aid instructor, inquire at your local hospital or local fire department.
The best plan for any disaster is to PLAN to be far away from it. Material items can be replaced, a life cannot. If the order to evacuate is given, go and take your pets with you. Friends don’t leave friends behind.
If you cannot leave the area, do you know where the designated people and pet shelters are? Every locality has an Emergency Management Office. Contact them before an emergency arises.