Today’s guest post is Part 4 in the series Preparing Yourself And Your Pet For Emergencies by Michael Salter from Springhill Associates. All photos by Alice G Patterson Photography.
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 homes and left their pets 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, a 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.
Bring 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. These can help if you and your pet are separated. They can also 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.
This is definitely the kind of thing no one really likes to think about, but wow, such an important topic! I usually think of natural disaster’s as the reason for needing to evacuate, but there Michael brings up some interesting points on all of the human caused reasons as well. On a side note, your models are very cute. 😉
I have had a couple of friends who had to evacuate with pets due to floods … your tips are GREAT and I really appreciate them.
Great tips! Such an important topic!
Wow. I think about preparing a “go bag” for all the kids, my husband, and myself, but now I feel bad because I never thought I would need to make one for the puppies. 🙁 Thanks for sharing this great advice, I’m gonna go get another bag now! 🙂
Grest post, such important info…and love that bag!
This is so important! I keep my pups vaccination and chip info in my purse just in case!
It’s a good idea to have several travel crates hanging around just in case. They fold into next to nothing, are easy and quick to assemble, and are easy to carry. We have cats, and we have a hammock for each travel crate. We sincerely hope we never need them for evacuation and use them to transport kittens to and fro the vet. Our vet’s staff calls the cages and hammocks “Cadillac travel” because the kittens are so relaxed in the hammock.
This is a great reminder that we always need to be prepared! Thank you!
Diane @ To Dog With Love says
Important reminder to be prepared! Great post!
Tenacious Little Terrier says
Theo’s emergency bag is adorable! I need to add some more stuff to Mr. N’s bag.
Miss Molly Says says
PAWSOME article!!! It is full of valuable information! Thank you so much for sharing it with us. Now, on to add a few more things into our kit!!
Talent Hounds says
Love the bags and as always, the photos are stunning. I need to be more prepared- great article and reminder
Sweet Purrfections says
Great posts and photography. There was a chemical spill from a train in the town near the university where Mom Paula worked. People had to evaluate immediately and many could not come home for several days.
That would be really rough, I hope everyone is okay!
Alli Smith says
I needed this info. I’m not as prepared as I thought I was when it comes to evacuation emergencies and making sure Max is safe and sound.
Amber Myers says
Yup, when we were in Oklahoma we had to head to the tornado shelter. But our cats refused to go :/ Ugh. Luckily they were okay, but sheesh, I was like, “Guys, I’m trying to HELP you!”
robin rue says
Thankfully my vet keeps my dog’s records, so if anything did happen it’s a relief to know that I can get copies easily.
It’s a good idea to think of your pets needs when coming up with an evacuation plan. I like the idea of keeping everything you’ll need inside of a crate so it’s all waiting in one place if/when the time comes to need it.
Denay DeGuzman says
This is a great idea for advanced planning! I need to make an evacuation bag for our little guy. Thank you so much for this great reminder!
This is such an important topic we need to keep discussing! Thanks for sharing such helpful tips!
Such a huge help and information too. I will definitely keep these in mind. Thanks!
Lisa Favre says
I didn’t even realize pets had vaccination records but it makes total sense! These are definitely tips I have to share with my in-laws. You can never be overprepared!
Jill Robbins says
This is great info. I’ve never thought about our pets in this situation before – thanks for providing the details.
This is great info to have because I feel so bad when animals are left behind because people weren’t prepared. Great bag too!
Very useful and helpful information! Thanks for sharing it with us!
What a great post. We’ve been having a ton of bad weather lately, so this is actually super helpful!
Terri Steffes says
We are being besieged by tornados and flooding. This is a good topic for this time of year.
I think it’s great to have a go-bag for every member of your family, but especially for your pets! I couldn’t leave my girl behind!
Amy H says
As much as I think of my pup as one of my kids, I would never have thought to prepare a “bugout bag” for him! 🙁 I feel like I’ve failed him as a mom 🙁 I need to put one together soon for him too
Michelle D. Garrett says
Great information and reminders! Living in a hurricane prone area it’s important to know these things to keep everyone safe and together.
Nancy at Whispered Inspirations says
With all of the natural disasters happening lately, it’s a good thing to have a plan like this. It breaks my heart when pets get left behind. This is great. I’m going to pass this on to my friends with pets.