Whether you view your animals as something akin to employees who are there to do a job, or (like me) you see them truly as members of your family, you need to plan ahead for their needs during and after a disaster. Our pets rely on us to provide them with food, water, and shelter, as well as take care of any medical needs.
For our discussion here, I’m concentrating mostly on dogs and cats, though the same principles apply to whatever critters you may have. But, given that dogs and cats are the most popular family pets, we’ll focus on them.
Our pets have the same needs as we do so let’s take those one step at a time.
Water: Figure an average of one gallon of water per pet, per day. Obviously a little ankle biter type dog will require less water than, say, a siberian husky so adjust the amount accordingly. The important thing is to have ample water stored for your pets as well as the rest of your family.
Food: You should easily be able to calculate how much food your pet will need per day. While you could theoretically feed your pet scraps from your own food stores, that’s probably not the wisest plan. First, you might not have scraps to spare. Second, a sudden change in diet may lead to some intestinal issues with your pet.
First aid and medical care: Basic first aid supplies for pets include gauze wraps, alcohol for disinfection, bandage tape, and antibiotic ointment. If your pet has specific medical needs, such as special medication, talk to your vet about acquiring a small supply to keep on hand for emergency use.
Collar and ID tags: Make sure your pet has a collar with appropriate ID and vaccination tags on it. Keep an extra set, with a spare leash, in your pet disaster supply kit. Make a complete copy of ownership paperwork, vaccination records, and medical records and keep this information with your kit.
Recent photo of you and your pet: This is very important. Should you and your pet become separated, having a recent picture of the two of you together will go far toward proving ownership. Further, a photo will help other folks locate your pet if it becomes lost.
Pet carrier: Should you need to evacuate, transporting your pet in a crate or pet carrier might be beneficial. The crate should be big enough that your pet can stand, turn, and lie down comfortably. Don’t forget a soft blanket as well as a chew toy or two.
Sanitation: For cats, make sure you have an ample supply of litter for their box. For dogs, if you run into a situation where you won’t be able to let them outside for some reason, a stack of old newspapers along with cleaning supplies may be necessary.
Keep in mind that most public emergency shelters will now allow you to bring in your pets so plan ahead. Call around to area motels to see which ones are pet friendly. Also, talk to neighbors, friends and family to discuss who might be able to help you with your pets should you need to evacuate without them.
Your assignments this week:
1) Put together your pet emergency supply kit. Make sure to include all the items listed above, as well as any additional needs for your specific situation.
2) In your evacuation plans, make sure you have included your pets. Find out where you can go with your pets in an emergency.
3) If your pets are behind on vaccinations, get this taken care of as soon as possible. Many places that will allow your pets, such as motels, will require the pets to be up to date on their shots.