Tag: cats

Prepare Your Pet for an Emergency


Pet in emergency

Last night our neighborhood response group hosted a special presentation from a local non-profit, SoCal Animal Response Team. The group’s mission is to help animals in disasters and to educate owners to have a pet emergency preparedness plan.

They stress preparing yourself but also how to prepare your pet to come safely through an emergency!

Here are some things to keep in mind as you prepare your pet for an emergency.

Everyday emergencies can keep you from getting home to your pet.

Even on a regular day, there are a lot of reasons why you might not make it home to your pet . . .

  • There’s a broken pipe at work and you have to stay to help clean up.
  • You get in a traffic accident on the way home and end up in the hospital.
  • A gas leak threatens your home neighborhood and you are trapped OUTSIDE the safety perimeter. No one is allowed in.

OK, so this emergency lasts all day and all night and well into the next day. In the meanwhile, what is going on with your small house pet?

Baby is wandering around in the dark, no lights, no heating. Baby finished off food and water a long time ago. Time to pee – where to go?  Time to poop – no one to take Baby for a walk! Baby whines, whimpers, howls and then gets mad and tears into a few pieces of furniture and starts destroying them.

You get the idea!

Prepare your pet with a Pet Buddy.

This is a friend or neighbor, someone who . . .

  • Knows you have a pet and notices you don’t get home as usual.
  • Knows and likes the pet, and the pet knows the Buddy.
  • Has a key to your house, knows where food, leashes, and pet medicines are kept.
  • Would be willing and able to get your cat into a pillowcase and thus into the carrier.
  • Has been authorized to take your pet to the vet for medical care if the pet gets injured. (Probably the vet will require a signed release for this.)

Being a Buddy is a big responsibility. But if you don’t find and train that Buddy, you could arrive home to a sick and hostile pet and a wrecked and reeking house.

Action item: Plan a meeting of a few neighbors (with pets) to see if you can come up with some Buddy pairs. Everyone’s pet will be safer and you will all feel better!

Prepare your pet for immediate evacuation!

Some emergencies hit without warning, but in many cases you will have some time to get packed up and into the car and headed for safety.

If you have 15 minutes, you will not have time to run through the house to grab everything you need, much less what your pet will need.

Heck, in 15 stressful minutes you may not even be able to find your pet! (Our speakers told horror stories of pets crawling into unreachable spaces.)

The plan for bigger emergencies:

  • Have your pet’s emergency kit already packed and sitting right there next to your own survival kit. (Need a reminder of what all should/could go into that kit? Here’s our recommended supplies list.)
  • Know where your pet is likely to hide and have a good way to call it to come out – for example, shake the food bag!
  • Keep important ID papers in a waterproof container (folder), along with the pet carrier. (See list of important pet papers here.)

If you are directed to a shelter, keep in mind that no matter what the law says, not all shelters will accept pets. If you’ve done your homework, you will already have a list of “pet friendly” hotels or kennels in the region. Clearly, if the disaster is widespread, these facilities will fill up fast. If you can, evacuate early to have the best chance of finding shelter for your pet.

Two-week plan for managing your pet after the hurricane, earthquake, etc.

Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all for disaster response. Your home could be fine, but the power is out. Your home could be partially damaged, or cut off by floods, snowed in roads, etc.

To prepare your pet for a two-week emergency, at a minimum you’ll need food, water and medicines not just for yourself but also for your pet. How much will depend mainly on the size of your pet. Of course, you’ll need warmth, light, etc.

In addition, our speakers gave us important reminders about what we might watch out for in the way of expected pet behavior in an extended emergency situation.

If your home is damaged, your animal will be disoriented, just like you are. Long-standing pet “markings” (with urine) may have disappeared or moved so your pet won’t recognize his or her territory.

Remember – your house pet is likely so domesticated it cannot protect or defend itself from danger. You have chosen your pet to be your companion. Now it’s your job to be your pet’s protector.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Inside, keep the pet in a bathroom. Safe, able to be closed up and cleaned up, no place for pet to hide.
  • If you go outside, keep the pet closely leashed to protect it from injury or from being attacked by other animals. If there is debris — broken wood, broken glass — make sure your pet is wearing booties.
  • If you’re in a group setting, you may need to muzzle your dog to be sure it doesn’t injure other people or animals. (If your dog is injured, it may bite YOU. Muzzle it.) Your cat can’t be muzzled, but injuries caused by a cat’s scratches or bites are particularly dangerous. Our speaker said that anytime their workers are bit or scratched they go immediately to the emergency room! Control your cat.
  • If your pet does escape, a couple of things can happen very quickly. First, your small pet is likely to become a victim of other hungry animals. Second, it may take only a few days for it to “revert to wild.” If you see the pet again later, it may not recognize you, may react aggressively, and may have become part of a dangerous pack of other animals. Approach with extreme caution.

Action items to prepare your pet to make it through an emergency

1-Have a pet emergency kit packed and ready to go. Include items you might not normally need, such as booties or muzzles.

2-Build and maintain a list of pet-friendly hotels and kennels – not just in your own town but wider afield in case you need to evacuate some distance away.

3-Update important identification papers for your pet, including medical information and photos.

4-Familiarize your pet with its carrying container. (Many animals find their cages/containers a very comforting place to sleep in, particularly when they have a favorite blanket or piece of your clothing.)

5-Plan a way to help organize neighborhood Pet Buddies.

Clearly, this Advisory does not cover the whole picture. But it’s a start –  with more to come! Please share with others who have house pets – and that probably means over half of your neighbors!

Your Emergency Plan Guide team

P.S. Knowing your neighbors’ pets is important. If the pets are always in the house, you may not realize just how many of them there are, or what KIND there are, until the walls fall down!