Note: The Ready Tonight series of articles by the Clinton County Emergency Management Agency to help promote disaster preparedness and increase resilience for all county residents.
In an emergency, your pets will depend on you more than even to remain safe.
Additionally, if you have kids, you may notice that during uncertain times that kids tend to become more physically attached to pets — a living, breathing, and sometimes-slobbery comfort blanket that helps to reassure kids that things are OK.
The first rule of taking care of pets during a disaster is to understand that if your home is not safe for you during an emergency, it isn’t safe for them either! The most important steps to taking care of your pets occur before disaster strikes.
To get you started, here are a few basic steps you can take to ensure their chance of survival:
Collar with ID tag: Ensure you have a reflective collar with an ID tag. Ensure you contact information is current, and strongly consider having your pet chipped. When you pay your annual pet license, place a copy in your family records fire/waterproof box.
Food: By keeping your pet food in a waterproof container, with at least three days set supply at all times, you are securing their ability to eat. Also, ensure you are calculating them into your water supply levels as well.
Documentation: Keep copies of your pet records with your family records in a fire/waterproof box. This includes an annual photo clearly showing identifying features of your pet.
Pet carrier: If your house is damaged, you will need a way to secure your pet while you conduct a damage assessment. If you need to relocate to a shelter, the pet carrier will help keep them secure at the shelter in the pet area.
Familiar items: When you buy your fur baby a new toy, take an older one and put it in a bag with your emergency kit, along with an extra leash. This way, you will have a comfort item for them if you have to relocate.
Emergency plan: Review your family emergency plan and ensure you have space for your four-legged kids in the event you have to evacuate. In you are looking for pet friendly hotels as an option (versus staying at a shelter), search www.bringfido.com to see what pet friendly options are available in the area you will be staying. Consider developing a “buddy system” with friends, family, or neighbors to help keep your pets safe during an emergency.
During a disaster, your pet’s behavior may change dramatically (just like people), making them aggressive or defensive. Be aware of their wellbeing and protect them from hazards to ensure the safety of other people and animals.
The steps you take to prepare your family to respond to an emergency, protect them during a disaster, and enable their ability to recover is an insurance policy of sorts that reflects what you put into it. Be the hero that your pet thinks you are, by taking the time to prepare for them before disaster strikes.