Prepare Your Pet for any Eventuality

A few years ago during super storm sandy, my family ran into a major problem.  What to do with my dog in case we had to evacuate, or in case our house sustained damage.  We talked it out and decided to bring her with us to my then office on North Centre Avenue in Rockville Centre.  However, she was frantically shaking and barking the whole time.  She was terrified.  When we finally went back to our house, our street in disarray, she seemed confused, as if she barely knew where we were.  Seemingly scarred from the event, any time she now hears fireworks or a major storm, she loses it all over again.  The following tips could help your pet in case a natural disaster strikes:

1: Does your pet have identification

pet planningThe first step you should take in prepping your pets in case of a disaster is ensuring that they have proper collars and identification tags.  A more 21st century alternative to the classic tag is a microchip, however, here in lies a problem.  If you are separated from your pet during a natural disaster and they are microchipped, it is unlikely that an innocent bystander would be able to scan the chip and retrieve the pet’s information.  That is why a classic tag is the safest bet.  On the tag should be your cell phone number, pets name, pets address, and potentially a backup phone number of the pet’s caretaker if you are away.

The next step you should take is to find a safe place to stay ahead of time.  A big problem when it comes to a disaster is finding a place that allows you to bring your pets.  There is an easy remedy to this issue.  Before a disaster hits, call your local office of emergency management to see where they stand on the admittance of pets.  If they do not allow pets, they will direct you to a shelter that houses animals.  The same goes for hotels and motels outside of your immediate area.  Here are some questions you can ask local hotels:  Are there any restrictions on number of pets?  Are there any restrictions on species?  Would a no pet policy be waved in an emergency?  Acquiring that information will allow you to compile a list of pet friendly shelters and hotels should you need to evacuate during a disaster.

What if there is no shelter or hotel that allows pets?  In that case, you should make arrangements with friends or relatives that live outside of your local sphere that could be affected by the disaster.  If so, give yourself enough time to evacuate both you and your pet to this location if a disaster is imminent.  This will allow you to ensure that you bring all the essentials you need for both yourself and your pet.  If shelters, hotels, and relatives’ houses are out of the question, then you must consider a boarding kennel or a veterinary’s office.  Just as you did with potential hotels, make a list of kennels or vets that could board your pet during the disaster.  Make sure you include their 24-hour emergency phone number.

Finally, plan for your pets in case you are not home.  If you know that you are going to be out of town during a disaster, make sure that you have a trusted relative or friend on standby to take care of your pet.  Be sure that they are comfortable with your pet, and that your pet is comfortable with them.  If you trust this person, you should leave a key to your home and information regarding where in your residence your pet would be, whether it would be sleeping or hiding.

Part 2:  Take your pet if you evacuate

The first rule of a disaster:  If it isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for your pet.  Disasters are volatile; you have no way of knowing how long the disaster will go on for, how long you could be kept out of the area, or even if you will be able to return to your home within a certain period of time.  Leaving your pets behind could be detrimental to their health and safety.  The second rule of a disaster: evacuate early.  This means that you should not wait to be told to evacuate.  If a disaster is imminent, take action and evacuate, with your pets, early.  If you wait, the smell of smoke or the sound of thunder could frighten your pet and make it difficult to evacuate them.  Leaving early gives you ample time to find a place that both you and your pet will be safe for the duration of the storm.

Part 3:  Be safe if you decide to stay home

If you are stuck home during a storm, identify a safe area within your home that your family and your pets can stay together.  Close off or eliminate unsafe nooks and crannies where frightened pets may try to hide.  Bring your pets indoors as soon as local authorities say trouble is on the way.  Designate a “safe room” where you can store your emergency supplies in advance.  Listen to the radio and watch your tv for continuous updates on the severity of the storm and the duration.

Part 4: After the disaster

When the disaster ends, your home may have been adversely affected.  If this is the case, keep your pets close by.  Familiar landmarks and smells may be gone, which could disorient your pets.  If you keep them close, you eliminate the possibility of them getting lost.  If there is damage, keep your dogs and cats on leashes until you determine how much damage has occurred.  Be patient with your pets in the wake of a disaster.  It was a very stressful situation and its possible they are experiencing stress as a result.  Finally, if your home was flooded, check for wild animals.  Fairly often, animals seek refuge during a flood.  These wild animals could pose a threat to both you and your pets.  Assessing the situation is key to maintaining both you and your pet’s situation.

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