Disaster Preparedness 101

Every time I turn on the news I feel like I see another natural disaster disrupting the lives of so many families.

Fires, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes...the list goes on and on.

As a veterinarian, I always worry about the four legged (feathered and scaled) members of these families.

What will happen to your pets if a natural disaster strikes? Do you feel prepared?

Whether you are in a part of the country that gets hurricanes or you are subject to wild fires, these tips will help you get your pet(s) the most prepared in the event of a disaster.

Rule #1: Know your areas potential for disaster! The more you know the more you can prepare. Ask yourself; how much forewarning do I have? If your on a fault line in California, you will not have any idea and earthquake is coming. If you are on the coast of Florida, you will have adequate time to prepare for a hurricane headed your way. Knowing your time line will help you create a safe environment and a reliable plan in the event a natural disaster strikes.

Rule #2: Prepare a disaster kit. This may seem obvious, but many people do not have a disaster kit ready for themselves, let alone their pets. Put together a list of things specific to your pets needs. Collect these things in a bag or carrier and store it in the garage, hall closet or under the bed! An example of my dogs disaster kit; bag of food, leash, file of paperwork (vaccine records, microchip info ect), list of safe havens (see rule #5), and medications. Simple, straightforward and most importantly easy to grab if we need to get out of the house quickly.

Rule #3: Have backup! It is so important to have a reliable emergency contact for your pets. Should you be unable to get to your animals in enough time, you will need someone who can. Let them know where your spare key is, where your disaster kit is and what your plan is in the event of an emergency.

Rule #4 Get your pets microchipped!! Agghghhhhhhh (insert hair pulling emoji here). I can’t stress this one enough. Microchipping is very easy and very inexpensive. Call your vet or find an affordable vaccine clinic in your area and GET…YOUR…PET…MICROCHIPPED. My heart breaks when I watch post-disaster news footage and see thousands of pets left homeless and unclaimed because they do not have the proper identification. Microchip your pet, register them online and never risk loosing them to a $40.00 charge.

Rule #5 Know your safe haven. Make a list of pet friendly places you can seek shelter in the event you are evacuated. This is so simple and can be summarized on one piece of paper or in the notes section of your phone. List pet friendly hotels, local shelters, veterinary hospitals, kennels and community centers. We do not always think straight in the face of disaster. This list will be concise and direct you and your pets to the safest shelter in a time of need.

Rule #6 Pet Alert Stickers. Place a pet alert sticker on your window or door. In the event that you are not home to retrieve your pet or your emergency contact is not able to retrieve your pet this sign will inform the women and men who serve on your local fire department that your pet is inside and needs help. You can buy this on amazon for as cheap at $7.99. The sign will indicate the number of pets and the different types of species you have.

Rule #7 Show your local fire and police department some love. Donate to the boot drive, volunteer or maybe drop off some cupcakes! As we flee natural disasters, these women and men are running into them.

Stay safe,

Dr. Rose