Emergencies happen all the time, often causing devastation to people and their pets. Sadly, it seems like we are always hearing about another disaster. It’s hard to imagine what the victims are going through unless you have been there yourself. If not, it’s important to remember that it can happen to you. Emergencies and disasters can happen to any of us, and they can endanger our dogs. Emergency and disaster preparedness means taking the time to prepare now, before a disaster occurs. Proper emergency and disaster preparedness can make all the difference later. You can save your dog’s life by making some general plans in advance.
Be sure your dog always wears current identification. In a sudden emergency, you may not be able to locate her collar if it is not on her. Microchip your pet and keep an ID tag on her collar.
If you need to evacuate an area, take your dog with you. Remember, if it is dangerous for you, then it is dangerous for your dog. Never leave a dog behind in a cage or tied up. If possible, you should evacuate before it is mandatory. This will allow extra time to get to a safe place where dogs are permitted. If you are not evacuating, have a plan to gather in the safest area of the house. Have your dog on a leash or in a kennel until it is safe to roam the house.
Once you have evacuated, you need to know where to go with your dog. Emergency shelters typically do not allow dogs unless they are service animals. Spend some time calling hotels and ask about their pet policies in event of an emergency. Check with nearby hotels as well as those further away. You don’t know now how far you’ll have to go in a disaster. Have a list of veterinary offices and boarding facilities in surrounding areas just in case your dog cannot stay with you.
Be ready for emergencies that could occur when you are not at home and can't assist your dog directly. Place a sign or sticker near all outside doors that states the number of pets you have, the type of pets, and where you or your veterinarian can be reached. These stickers are often available through your veterinarian’s office. This will help in the event someone must rescue your pets. Ask a trustworthy neighbor to check on your pets in case of an emergency.
Prepare a disaster kit for you and your dog now. Keep it in an accesible area of your home for easy reach in case of an emergency. This is one of the most important preparatory measures you can take. Your disaster kit should include the following:
- At least one week's supply of bottled water, food and medication for you and each dog
- A leash for each dog, plus a one or two extra leashes
- A kennel for each dog, if possible
- Veterinary records on each dog
- First Aid supplies
- Phone numbers of veterinarians, family, friends, hotels and boarding facilities
- Current photos of each dog (in the event you become separated)
- Dog beds and toys
- Flashlights and extra batteries
- Blankets and towels
- Any other personal and pet items you think you might need
Remember to check the kit every few months and replace old or expired items.
If you are ready for an emergency in advance, you can rest assured that you have done the best for you and your dog to ease the stress of disaster situations. Emergency preparedness can save your dog’s life, so it’s worth the extra time now.