Emergency Preparedness

By: DogTrekker Staff

Vet Buzz from Bill Barboni, DVM and Chris Pitts, RVT,
Marin Pet Hospital, San Rafael, CA

yellow lab with leash

In case of an emergency being prepared is the key to a good outcome for all involved. Leaving your pet behind, as we all learned with Hurricane Katrina, may be a recipe for disaster for your pets. When you need to evacuate, you are never sure how long you will be gone. Below is a list to help you take care of your pet in case of a natural disaster.

  1. Make sure your pet has ID. In an emergency situation, your pet can panic and run away. Having a collar with ID tags can help your pet find his way back to you. Microchips are wonderful. In the event that your dog pulls out of his collar, the microchip serves as a way for a veterinarian or animal safety officer to identify your dog through a microchip scanner. The microchip is scanned and then the microchip registry is contacted to get your contact information.
  2. Gather enough food, water and medication (if needed) for three days in a container that is easy to grab, such as a plastic storage tote.
  3. Have a cargo crate on hand. Write your name and address on the crate. Many shelters do not accept pets. Having a cargo crate will make it easier for your pet to be accepted at a pet shelter. Alternatively, if you end up in a hotel or at a friend’s house, your stay will go a lot smoother if your dog has a crate he can make his den for the duration of his stay.
  4. A non-slip collar, such as a martingale style, and a leash. This way if your dog gets scared while you try to evacuate he will be less like to pull out of his collar. Put your dog on leash. Even the best-trained dog may try to run away during a natural disaster.
  5. First aid equipment. Gauze, triple antibiotic ointment, bandage scissors, saline wound flush.
  6. A copy of medical records.
  7. Current photo of your dog in case he gets lost.
  8. A blanket.
  9. A roll of paper towels and some paper bags to clean up messes.
  10. Put into writing how you would like your dog taken care of in your absence, i.e., walk three times a day, feed one cup of kibble twice a day, give one tablet of medication twice a day, etc. This way, if you need to leave your dog at a shelter or with a friend, his temporary caretakers know what to do.

In addition, find dog friendly accommodations ahead of time so you know where to go in case of evacuation. DogTrekker.com is full of great ideas. And don't forget to take care of yourself too. Check your own emergency supplies and make sure they are up to date. To be super prepared, you can also sign up for a Pet First Aid Class. Call your local Red Cross to find out where a class will be held near you. That good old ounce of prevention…