Planning for your Pets

As animal lovers we all hope to never be involved in a natural disaster, but know that being prepared in case of a disaster is important.  The ASPCA and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have valuable information for how to include pets in your disaster planning, what to do during a disaster, and what to do after a disaster.  In addition, FEMA provides free online courses for those interested in community planning.

Pet emergency kit

Here on the coast, it is best to prepare for evacuation and sheltering at home. 

  • Food and water. You will need to evacuate with at least two weeks of food for each of your pets. For canned food, single-serving pop-top cans work best because they don't require a can opener or refridgeration. Place in an airtight container or watertight bag so that it doesn’t get wet.  For in home sheltering, purchase at least three months worth of food.  Remember to include your pets when calculating your water needs. Consider rain barrels and a filtration system since it is difficult to purchase and store enough water.
  • Leashes, carriers, and stake-outs.
  • Feeding bowls and cleaning supplies. Pack collapsible or disposable bowls, as well as dish soap and towels for cleaning.
  • Medication. At least two weeks’ supply of prescription medications and preventatives (e.g., flea, heartworm).
  • Sanitation. Two weeks’ worth of kitty litter and a scoop, or poop bags and a pooper scooper. Include disposable gloves, rags or towels and disinfectant to clean out your pet’s crate or kennel.
  • Comfort. Don’t forget bedding, blankets and toys.
  • Safety. Collar, leash, muzzle, stake out, etc., as applicable.
  • Pet first-aid kit. Bandages of assorted sizes, cotton swabs, antiseptic, first-aid cream, tweezers and small scissors.

You may purchase pre-packaged pet kits from a number of online sources.

Prepare

Identification. It is important for your pet to have a collar, id, and microchip with current registration.  Licensing your pet helps us reunite you and your furry family member.  Keep a picture of your pet with you to help prove your ownership.

Make sure your animals are altered and up-to-date on vaccinations.  Keep copies of all of your records and an extra supply of medications.

Make a plan. American Red Cross shelters do not allow pets, except certified service dogs. Check if friends or family will let you stay with your pets. Look for pet-friendly hotels (and many waive no-pet policies during disasters). Include carriers for all of your pets in your disaster plans.  Also, make a plan about who will care for your pets in case disaster strikes when you are not home.

Learn how to save your pets:

Plan for your death or incapacity. It's not the most fun topic of discussion, but the most important thing you can do for your pets is plan in advance:

  • select a caregiver you trust, don't assume your family will care for your pet;
  • draft a pet profile providing detailed information about your pet's veterinary history and medical needs, daily routine, and instructions for their care--tell a number of people where to find this information;
  • if possible, leave sufficient financial resources for your pet's care;
  • carry emergency contact information for people who know how to care for your pet in your phone or wallet;
  • include your pet in your will or trust--there are many local estate planning attorneys who will be happy to provide you with additional information.