When Hurricane Katrina ripped through the Gulf Coast in 2005, many residents that found themselves directly in its path refused to evacuate their homes. In many cases, they stayed simply because no emergency facility would accept their pets. Despite the danger, they refused to abandon their beloved pets. But it is estimated that over 600,000 animals were killed or stranded as a result of Hurricane Katrina.
The tragedy led to the passage of the Pet Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act (PETS), which worked to address the needs of people with pets and service animals after a disaster or emergency. Emergencies on the scale of Katrina, or even smaller less-than-newsworthy events, require thought and preparation to help keep your pets safe. National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day brings this need to attention on May 14th. Here are a few things you can do:
- Put together a binder of information about your pet, similar to this example for families. Include contact numbers for your veterinarian, shot records and registration information, dietary or medical needs, and emergency contacts. Add information on local hotels that accept pets, animal shelters, boarding kennels, or friends who may be able to take in your pets during an emergency.
- Place a rescue sticker near the front door of your home to inform emergency workers of the number and types of animals living in your home. You can get one from Encanto Pet Clinic or free from the ASPCA. If you leave with your pets during an emergency, be sure to mark the word “evacuated” across the sticker to inform emergency workers the pets are safe and out of the house.
- Do not leave your pets if you are told to leave your residence during an emergency. Remember – if it is not safe for you, it not safe for your pets! They could become trapped, escape and lose their bearings, or suffer injury.
- Choose a designated caregiver in case of hospitalization or death. This should be a person you know and trust; someone who will foster or take over the care of your pet with love and kindness. Discuss your expectations ahead of time with this person and make sure it is a responsibility he or she is willing to take on. Write a letter of intent with the caregiver’s information, and add to your pet’s binder. Encanto Pet Clinic discussed this plan in 11 Tips for Responsible Dog Ownership.
Make sure your pet is wearing a collar or harness with identification at all times. Consider microchipping your pet. Microchips are implanted under the skin of your pet, are painless, and can be scanned by animal shelters and other pet professionals. Encanto Pet Clinic staff is happy to discuss this procedure with you.
Cat photo courtesy Jonas Vincent – unsplash.com
- Have an emergency kit ready for each pet. Complete kits can be purchased online, or you can make your own. Include:
- a first-aid kit
- a week’s worth of your pet’s food
- throwaway litter pans for cats
- paper towels to be used for clean-up or for litter pan liners
- extra collar and leash, travel bowls
- a bottle of dish soap for cleaning
- a week’s ration of water
- a few toys.
Store items in a sturdy carrier for each pet.
- ASPCA has a mobile app available that will help you during a disaster. The app can also be used to store information on your pet, such as medical needs or contact information.
- Talk to your veterinarian about any concerns you may have about your pet, or about emergency preparedness. Encanto Pet Clinic veterinarians and staff are here to help you put together a complete plan in case of emergency. We love your pets!