Protect Your Pets During a Natural Disaster

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Do you have a plan for your pet's safety in case of a bad earthquake or hurricane? Even those who do their best to prepare ahead of time may sometimes be caught off guard by a natural disaster. Maybe there's some variable they forget to account for, or some supplies they forget to stock up on. If you're a pet owner, don't let your animal's health and safety be the thing you forgot to consider in case a hurricane, earthquake, tornado, wildfire or other disaster strikes.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) offers tips for protecting your pet before, during and after a disaster.

Have an emergency kit readily available. This should include clean water and both wet and dry food. Also keep a copy of your pet's medical records in the kit; you may not have time to go digging through your files in an emergency. A small supply of any prescribed medicine your pet requires may also be included. And pack a leash or harness, even for a cat.

Make sure that all your animals have collars or harnesses with identification. If there is a lot of confusion in the wake of a disaster (and there almost certainly will be), you and your pet may become separated. Make sure your pet can easily be identified and returned to you when found. Also carry a photo of your pet in case you need to search for it.

If you must evacuate, take your animals with you. They cannot care for themselves, and their safety is at greater risk without you around in the event of a disaster. Having an animal in tow may complicate your evacuation slightly, but that's why preparing ahead of time is so important.

Decide on your destination ahead of time. Plan ahead to find shelter in a place that will allow pets. Not all emergency shelters or hotels will allow them, although many hotel suspend their normal pets policies in the event of a disaster emergency. Have a few options planned for in case your first choice(s) are unavailable for some reason.

Never turn animals loose outdoors, and don't tie animals outside or keep them in a vehicle unattended. In some cases, authorities may force you to leave your pets behind, so plan ahead for this. Have a secure area of the house where they can be as safe as possible, preferably with access to upper floors in case of flooding. Domestic animals are just that: domesticated. They won't suddenly be able to fend for themselves in the world if they set loose.

If you can't get to your home to evacuate your animals, contact a reliable neighbor or friend to check on them and get them out, if possible. Obviously, this will work out better if you plan it ahead of time. Choose a few trustworthy contacts now, and ask them if they will be willing to help your pets if necessary. Make sure they have keys to your place and a list of instructions.

There is a lot of chaos and uncertainty in the wake of a disaster. You can mitigate it by planning as thoroughly as possible to ensure your pet is taken care of every step of the way.


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Great tips. We did a post last week ( after a wildfire near us) on disaster preparedness tips.

May 09 2013 at 5:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
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