Disaster preparedness tips for pet owners

Photo (c) Budimir Jevtic - Fotolia

Having a 'go kit' prepared can help ensure pets stay safe

A well-stocked disaster supply kit and an emergency plan can be lifesavers in the event of a disaster, such as a hurricane or tornado. But if you’re a pet owner, you may need to take a few extra precautions to prepare for an emergency requiring evacuation.

Downed power lines, debris, and flooding can make the area in and around your home dangerous for pets.

If disaster strikes, it’s best to take your furry family members with you, says Angela Clendenin, public information officer for the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ Veterinary Emergency Team (VET).

Evacuate early

Clendenin recommends leaving early -- as soon as the first notice is issued.

“When evacuation is delayed, roads can get jammed with traffic or become impassible with early flooding or debris,” Clendenin said. “For those who need assistance with evacuating animals, resources may become scarce or non-existent as the threat from the disaster gets closer.”

“Evacuating early ensures that pets and their owners are able to get to safety before the disaster hits,” she said.

Create a ‘go kit’

Additionally, she recommends making an emergency pet kit ahead of time. With disaster looming on the horizon, it can be difficult to think clearly.

For this reason, creating a ‘go kit’ ahead of time is a smart idea. Clendenin recommends filling your ‘go kit’ with necessary documents and supplies. Make it easy to grab and transport in the event of an evacuation.

“In the case that pet and livestock owners get separated, this kit should include photos of pets and descriptions of where livestock is located, using GIS coordinates, if possible,” she said. “Ensuring your pets and livestock are microchipped or visibly tagged or marked is also a way to identify animals and establish ownership.”

Items to pack

She also recommends packing enough food, water, and medication to last your pet a few days, as well as the following items:

  • Collar or harness with ID tag, rabies tag, and a leash.
  • Crate or pet carrier.
  • Pet litter and litter box.
  • A picture of you and your pet together. If you become separated, a picture of you and your pet together will help you document ownership and allow others to help you.
  • Comfort items. Familiar items, such as treats, toys and bedding can help reduce stress for your pet.

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