By Dr. Angela Gaeto, DVM, of the Helen Woodward Animal Center community in San Diego County.
September is National Preparedness month, which reminds us that we need to think about disasters before they have a chance to impact our families. This means we need to include our furry family members in our plans as well!
The first step in planning for an emergency is to get an alert sticker for your home. These you place on an easily visible window or door to indicate how many pets live there. The purpose is is to alert rescue workers that pets are in residence. If you need to evacuate your pet, be sure to have a safe way to transport them in your vehicle, such as a crate. Also consider what to do in the event you are not at home when pets need to be evacuated. Have a designated caregiver pick up your pets from your home and bring them to you or to another safe location. Make sure this person has access to your home. In the event that you need to evacuate your home, do NOT leave your pet behind. If it is not safe for you to remain home, it is not safe for your pet.
Arranging a safe place
In the event that you need to evacuate your home, make sure you have a safe location to bring your pet. This can mean the home of a family member or friend, or a boarding or pet-care facility. You can also look into pet-friendly hotels that may be able to accommodate all of your family members. You should have multiple options to choose from in the event that many areas are under evacuation.
Prepare emergency supplies
Since evacuation time is typically limited and it is important to heed the instructions of state and local officials, the best-case scenario is to have disaster supplies for you and your pet readied ahead of time. The first thing to consider is identification for your pet. This can mean a collar with a tag, and/or a microchip for more permanent identification. Also pack food and water for your pet in containers that will stay safe from spoilage. Be sure to have bedding and cleaning supplies for kennels on hand. It would also be wise to have medical records and any medications your pet needs in an easily accessible location to take with you in an emergency.