In the case of a disaster, do you have a plan that includes your pets? Already this spring tornadoes have leveled parts of the Midwest, so disaster planning takes on a new and more important meaning. Rarely in all of this planning are pets mentioned. When disaster hits, they can be cast out into the storm or left to fend for themselves, often with disastrous consequences.
How can we incorporate our pets into our disaster plan? It’s not that hard. If you plan to stay in your home during a disaster, make sure you have extra pet food and an extra supply of water on hand. As a rule of thumb, a pet needs 2 ounces of water (1/4 cup) for every 2 pounds of body weight per day. So, a 10-pound cat or dog would need about 10 ounces of water — that’s about a cup. If it’s hot outside, they’ll need two or three times that much.
If you know a storm is coming, get your pets indoors and safe. Pets left outdoors can become frightened and run away and the last thing you want to do is run right into a dangerous situation looking for a lost pet.
Remember to keep on hand any medications that they may need. If a tornado blows through town you may not be able to pick up a refill, so don’t let the prescription run low and keep extra in reserve. This is much more important if it is a lifesaving medication like those used to treat heart conditions or seizures.
Make sure they have a collar with identification that has up-to-date phone numbers on it. If your pets get separated from you, an ID tag can be an important link in the chain of reuniting you all. Microchips can also be implanted, and most shelters have microchip readers that will display your phone number.
Keeping control of your pets is vitally important. Tossing a cat in a pillowcase will do in a pinch — you can always get them in the carrier when you are in the car (just don’t do it while the car is moving). For dogs, make sure that you have a leash and collar that they can’t slip out of. Small pets like birds and rodents can usually be transported right in their cages.
Keep an evacuation kit for your pets with your general family kit. Things to keep in the kit include:
- Leashes (like a Sergeant’s Fur-So-Fresh 1″ Nylon Lead)
- Bags for cleanup
- Medical records
- Blankets or pillowcases (for transporting scared pets)
With a little preparation, you can get everyone in the family through an emergency. Your pets are counting on you to make a plan and stick to it!