The recent flooding in Colorado and the not so long ago storms that hit Oklahoma and the areas of the country plagued by wildfires and other natural disasters make you realize that at almost any moment your life could be rocked by tragedy. If you do'nt have an emergency plan in place for your human family and your four legged pet family, and it doesn't matter what are of the country you live in — you need to have one in place in the event of an emergency.
When I read about the pets lost and the organizations that are involved in raising funds to help the misplaced pets, it makes me wonder how I'd take care of Henrietta in the event of an emergency. She is small enough to grab up and run but what happens after that? What about food, water, her medical records. If my area of the country was struck by a tornado or a flood, how would I do the simple things like hold onto her in the face of a torrent from Mother Nature? And regardless of her size, how would she react in an emergency? It could make it impossible to hold on to her or even to have our usual routine of her slipping happily into a purse when we're traveling.
There are countless tragic and heartbreaking as well as uplifting stories being told about pets being reunited with their families and that made me wonder — Henrietta is an indoor dog (to the point of being a house cat!) how would she survive if we were separated? She is skittish around strangers, too bold around animals bigger than herself and has never had to fend for herself.
Here are some tips put forth by the federal government on how to prepare your pet and its care in an emergency situation (paraphrased):
- Food: Keep at least three days of food in an airtight, waterproof container.
- Water: Store at least three days of water specifically for your pets, in addition to water you need for yourself and your family.
- Medicines and medical records: Keep an extra supply of medicines your pet takes on a regular basis in a waterproof container.
- First aid kit: Talk to your veterinarian about what is most appropriate. Most kits should include cotton bandage rolls, bandage tape and scissors; antibiotic ointment; flea and tick prevention; latex gloves, isopropyl alcohol and saline solution. Include a pet first aid reference book.
- Collar with ID tag, harness or leash: Your pet should wear a collar with its rabies tag and identification at all times. Include a backup leash, collar and ID tag in your pet’s emergency supply kit.
- Important documents: Place copies of your pet’s registration information, adoption papers, vaccination documents and medical records in a clean plastic bag or waterproof container and also add them to your kit.
- Crate or other pet carrier: If you need to evacuate in an emergency situation take your pets and animals with you, provided that it is practical to do so.
- Sanitation: Include pet litter and litter box if appropriate.
- A picture of you and your pet together: If you become separated from your pet during an emergency, a picture of you and your pet together will help you document ownership and allow others to assist you in identifying your pet. Include detailed information about species, breed, age, sex, color and distinguishing characteristics.
- Familiar items: Put items that will make your pet more comfortable in an unusual environment – blankets, chew toys, etc.
You should pack an emergency kit for your pet and all of your family members and keep it in a closet by the front door. In the event of an emergency situation, you want to be able to grab the items and go. Check the items every few months and replace as needed — in the event the food becomes outdated, etc.
While you hope it never happens to you, in an emergency situation, it's always better to be prepared well in advance. If you want to get involved with any rescue efforts ask your local pet shelter if they're aware of what is needed in areas of the country hit by weather emergencies and put together a care package to help the homeless pets.