Preparedness Month every September encourages people to be prepared for unplanned events or disasters. More than 67 percent of U.S. households have a pet, yet most families do not have an emergency plan that includes them. If you are like many pet owners, your pet is an important member of your family. One of the most important tools you can have to protect them is a pet emergency preparedness plan. Here's how to get started.
Identify your pet
- Make sure all pets wear collars and tags with up-to-date identification (ID) information. Tags should contain their name, a telephone number and any urgent medical needs.
- Make sure your contact information is also on their pet carrier.
- Take pictures of your pets that include their most adorable and defining features to share with people should you get separated.
- Have pets microchipped. It can help reunite you and your pets quickly if they get lost.
Make a pet disaster supply kit
- Store a pet disaster supply kit and leashes as close to an exit as possible.
- Make sure family members know where it is, that it is clearly labeled and easy to carry.
- Include basic survival items such as their food, special medications and a favorite toy to help your pet stay happy and comfortable.
- Go to the Humane Society's Pet Disaster Preparedness Kit Checklist for a detailed list.
Stay safe at home plan
- If your family and pets must wait out a storm or other disaster at home, identify a safe area of your home where you can all stay together.
- Close off or eliminate unsafe nooks and crannies where frightened animals may try to hide.
- Bring your pets indoors as soon as local authorities say trouble is on the way. Keep dogs on leashes and cats in carriers, and make sure they are wearing identification.
- If you have a room you can designate as a "safe room," put your emergency supplies in that room in advance, including your pet's crate and supplies. Have any medications and a supply of pet food inside watertight containers. If there is an open fireplace, vent, pet door or similar opening in the house, close it off with plastic sheeting and strong tape.
- In advance of any emergency, display Pet Rescue Stickers on each side of your house or in windows. This will let firefighters or responders quickly know to look for your animal(s) inside. The stickers should include information on any pets that live in the house. A rescue alert sticker can also be helpful during an evacuation situation.
If you have a rescue alert sticker and you evacuate your home, write "EVACUATED" on the sticker so that rescue workers know they don't need to search your house for pets. A free pet safety pack can be ordered from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
Have an evacuation plan
If it isn't safe for you, it isn't safe for your pets. If you must evacuate, it is important to understand that animals may not be allowed inside all public shelters. Keep a list of animal-friendly places handy and call ahead for a reservation as soon as you think you might have to leave your home. For help identifying pet-friendly lodging, check out these websites.
After the disaster
After an emergency, familiar scents and landmarks may have changed and pets can become confused or lost. It's recommended to keep pets on a leash or in a carrier when they're being transported or when you take them outside.