Welcome back to our Daily Dog Tag series aimed at helping you learn how to “Prepare Yourself and Your Pet for Emergencies.” In this installment, human-made problems and Mother Nature take hold of our lives and the lives of our pets.
Sample Reasons to Evacuate
In the modern world, there are a number of human-made and natural emergency situations that could force us to leave our homes. Some of those problems are avoidable, and some are not. Each person has to make an informed choice on a course of action based on the information available. And we have a responsibility to provide for our companions as well.
If you have ever driven behind a large truck and seen a red diamond placard with numbers on it, that placard number tells police, fire crews, DOT inspectors, ambulance workers, and many others what kind of specific “hazardous” cargo is on board. Now, don’t get too concerned yet, even milk is technically hazardous as an environmental pollutant in specific situations. But chlorine (ID # 1017) can be released as a gas, and it is hazardous. Anyone in the path of a chlorine gas plume would be advised to evacuate the area as quickly as possible. Crude oil is often carried on trains and trains have been known to derail, and the oil can catch fire, which sends a cloud of pollutants into the sky. There are many human-made reasons you may have to leave an area.
Natural disasters such as a flood, wildfire, blizzard, hurricane, tornado, earthquake, or heat wave can also put stress on you and your pet. Even a long-term power outage due to a natural disaster could have an effect, even if you are not directly impacted by whatever interrupted the electricity transmission.
There are many reasons why you may need to leave the area. But, as a responsible pet owner, you must also take responsibility to provide for your companion animal. We’ve all had our hearts broken by stories of people who left their home and left their pet to die. This can be avoidable with some advance planning. After the disaster hits, it is too late to get ready.
Whether you stay at home with your companions (called “sheltering in place”) or evacuate (sometimes called “bugging out”), a good emergency plan is to have enough supplies available for a minimum of three days. That means having some food, water, dietary supplements, first aid kit, and other items in storage beforehand. These items plus towels or blankets, food/water bowls, and spare leash and collar can be stored in pet carriers or crates, so everything is in one place.
Copies of your pet’s vaccination records, ownership records, microchip records, photos of your pet’s distinguishing markings, and photos of you with your pet can help if you are separated and can help the check-in process if boarding is an option. You should also have extra copies of your vet’s contact information as well as for area emergency clinics.
You may also want to make advance arrangements with boarding facilities outside your local area in case boarding may be a possibility. Some hotels also allow well-behaved pets in crates so you will want to learn in advance which ones may accommodate you and your companion.
Contact your local/county/state emergency management authorities to see if their emergency plans include any provision for companion animals in shelter facilities. Because of the Americans with Disabilities Act, they must include service animals in their plans, but other pets may not be included. Ask your vet if there is a plan in place at the office in the event they must evacuate (in case your pet is there) and how to contact another vet if needed during a widespread emergency. Often, cooperative agreements exist between offices in the event of an evacuation emergency.
You may also be able to reach out to family or friends outside the affected area for shelter. Again, do this ahead of time and offer a cooperative arrangement if possible. Making mutually acceptable arrangements in advance can help your state of mind when it comes time to act.
Thinking About the Unthinkable
Certainly, this information is food for thought and good conversation fodder with your vet. But advance planning includes thinking about these situations beforehand, and it is vital to your performance when it comes time to act. While the thoughts may be uncomfortable, it is important that you and your companion animal be ready to take positive action in time of need. Your companion animals depend on you to do the right thing for them, daily and in an emergency.
In the final article of this series, we’ll examine boarding your pet and what you can do to make the experience less stressful for yourself and your pet.
About Springhill Associates: Based in Georgetown, New York, Springhill Associates offers a range of services including first aid training, wilderness skills, and assistance in writing grants. Michael can teach proper training in various types of emergency & disaster preparations and CPR & first aid training, including “Pet First Aid and Disaster Response.” He has received training from the Emergency Care and Safety Institute as well as other sources over the years and has been certified as an ECSI Instructor.
About Alice G Patterson Photography: Based in Syracuse, New York, Alice specializes in dog photography, senior portraits, editorial and commercial photography for small businesses.