Hurricane Sandy and the 7.7 magnitude earthquake that hit off the coast of British Columbia are both reminders that we’ve got to prepare for taking care of our pets in the event of a disaster, whether it be a storm or an earthquake.
Rescue groups say the single most important thing you can do to protect your pets if you evacuate is to take them with you. If it’s not safe for you to stay in the disaster area, it’s not safe for your pets. Animals left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Animals left inside your home can escape through storm damaged areas, such as broken windows.
Animals turned loose to fend for themselves are likely to become victims of exposure, starvation, predators, contaminated food or water, or accidents.
Leaving dogs tied or chained outside in a disaster is a death sentence. If you leave, even if you think you may be gone only for a few hours, take your animals. Once you leave your home, you have no way of knowing how long you’ll be kept out of the area, and you may not be able to go back for your pets.
Here are some tips from the ASPCA and the Washington State Department of Health:
Get a Rescue Alert Sticker for your home. By posting a sticker similar to the one found in the ASPCA Pet Safety Pack in an easy-to-see location, rescue workers will be alerted that there are pets in your home. You should include the number and types of pets present, as well as your veterinarian’s contact information.
Choose a safe haven Know in advance where you can take your family and pets in case of evacuation. Check with evacuation centers and area hotels to find a pet-friendly location.
Bringfido.com provides a list of pet-friendly motels and hotels.
IDs, please! Make sure your pet is wearing collars and ID tags with up-to-date identification. This is the perfect time to have your pet micro-chipped if you have not already done so.
Emergency supply list for pets
- Have everything ready to go. Store supplies in sturdy easy-to-carry containers. Include:
- Medications and medical records stored in a waterproof container, and a first-aid kit.
- Sturdy leashes and harnesses. A secure carrier large enough for your pet to stand comfortably, turn around and lie down. Add blankets or towels for bedding.
- Photos to help identify lost pets and prove ownership.
- Food and water for at least seven days for each pet.
- Bowls, cat litter and litter box, and a manual can opener.
- Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and the name and number of your veterinarian.
- Pet beds and toys, if you can easily take them.
- Newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags, grooming items and household bleach.
Special Considerations for Birds
- Birds should be transported in a secure travel cage or carrier.
- In cold weather, make certain you have a blanket over your pet’s cage. This may also help reduce the stress of traveling.
- In warm weather, carry a spray bottle to periodically moisten your bird's feathers.
- Have recent photos available, and keep your bird’s leg bands on for identification.
- If the carrier does not have a perch, line it with paper towels that you can change frequently.
- Keep the carrier in as quiet an area as possible.
- It is particularly imperative that birds eat on a daily basis, so purchase a timed feeder. If you need to leave your bird unexpectedly, the feeder will ensure his daily feeding schedule.
- Items to keep on hand: Catch net, heavy towel, blanket or sheet to cover cage, cage liner
Special considerations for reptiles
- A snake may be transported in a pillowcase, but you should have permanent and secure housing for him when you reach a safe place.
- Take a sturdy bowl that is large for your pet to soak in. It’s also a good idea to bring along a heating pad or other warming device, such as a hot water bottle.
- Lizards can be transported like birds (see above)
Special considerations for small animals
- Small animals, such as hamsters, gerbils, mice and guinea pigs, should be transported in secure carriers with bedding materials, food and food bowls.
- Items to keep on hand: Salt lick, extra water bottle, small hidebox or tube, a week's worth of bedding.