By Miss Kira
“We would never leave you behind, please don’t leave us behind.”
Muss Kira here to let you know September is Disaster Preparedness Month. As a dog, I know the simple things in life are often the most important things in life. So, I’ve put together this blog article to help all pet parents make pet disaster preparedness as simple as 1, 2, 3.
#1 Assemble Your Pet’s Emergency Evacuation Pack, Disaster Supplies Kit, or Go Bag.
Do you need ideas about what kinds of disaster supplies pet-parents pack in their dogs’ and cats’ emergency evacuation kits? See below for details. Then, be sure to download this handy checklist which you can print-out as needed.
#2 Permanent Identification (such as microchips which can not fall off or be removed).
If your pet is not yet microchipped, do it now. Seriously, right now, call your vet and schedule a microchip appointment. Register your pet’s chip number with HomeAgain – you can list your own contact info PLUS an emergency backup contact person and perhaps an out-of-town or out-of-state backup emergency contact.
Even if your pet has a chip from a different manufacturer the HomeAgain registry – their database – is still available for your use. How awesome is that?!? And if your friendly Porte Vet Staff inserts the microchip – we will also handle all of the registration paperwork on your behalf. Learn more about our microchipping services.
#3 Proof of Vaccination Records.
Your pets should be kept up to date on all of their vaccines, but especially their rabies vaccines. And with Porte’s digital records, we can send you a digital copy of your pet’s vaccination records upon request. Please call us.
If your pet is not up to date on their vaccines, please call now to schedule an appointment. Don’t give evacuation centers, boarding kennels, or hotels ANY reason to turn away your pets. Your pets are depending on you to ensure their safety. Please don’t let them down when they are most vulnerable.
Tips for Preparing Disaster Supply Kits or Emergency Evacuation Packs for Dogs and Cats
Emergency Evacuation Packs, Disaster Supplies Kits, Go Bags, Bug Out Bags, etc. go by many different names. For the purposes of this article, we’ll be referring to these as Pet Evac-Packs.
Tip #1 Choosing the Pet Evac-Pack
Consider a brightly colored, bright white, or highly visible backpack, duffle bag, rolling suitcase, or large tote bag preferably with reflective material (think of how a firefighter’s suit or the emergency exit doors on school buses use reflective material).
Tip #2 Choosing the Evac-Pack Location
Choose a logical location where the Evac-Packs are always stored. Always.
Ensure every family member and emergency contact friend or neighbor knows exactly where the Evac-Packs can be found in your home.
And if you have pets other than dogs and cats, here is a link to a pdf article on the AVMA website – scroll down several pages for information on disaster preparedness for birds, reptiles, and rodents.
You could prepare the most awesome evacuation pack, but it won’t do any good if it can’t be easily located, especially if your home is dark because of a power outage or smoke from a fire.
Tip #3 Practice
Conduct one-minute disaster drills to practice getting the people, the pets, and all necessary Evac-Packs to safety. Practicing the disaster drill may reveal flaws in your plan. Take this opportunity to make adjustments and then conduct the drills again.
Porte’s Pets Evac-Pack Checklist:
Place an emergency collar, with tags attached, plus an emergency leash or harness inside the evacuation pack. If you don’t have extra tags already made, please use luggage tags or temporary writable tags until you have time to prepare an extra set.
There are a variety of reasons your pet dogs or cats may not be wearing their collars with tags when disaster strikes. However, during an emergency evacuation, when every second counts, there is no time for you (or your family member, neighbor, animal welfare worker, etc) to go searching for your pet’s collar, harness, or leash.
Proof of Vaccination Records.
Recent photo of you with your pet to use as proof this pet belongs to you.
Place the paperwork and photo inside of a sealed waterproof plastic bag or sturdy zip-lock type baggie.
Your veterinary team here at Porte Veterinary can reprint extra prescription labels so you can put together an extra set of meds which will last the recommended 7 days.
This extra 7-day set can then be placed inside of a waterproof plastic bag or a sturdy zip-lock type baggie.
To serve as temporary housing.
If you have a cat or small dog, you may be able to fit a collapsible pet carrier inside of your pet’s evac-pack backpack, duffle bag, or tote bag.
For cats, the carrier must be large enough to contain both the cat and a small makeshift kitty litter box.
If you have a large dog, their crate will likely not fit inside of a duffle bag or backpack. Thus, you may want to consider a collapsible wire crate which – when collapsed – has a carrying handle.
This emergency wire crate should be stored – collapsed – and located with the pet’s evac-pack making it as easy as possible to quickly grab the pet, the crate, and the evac-pack as you make your way to safety.
It is recommended to have at least a seven day supply of drinking water available for each pet.
Spill-proof is a plus!
It is recommended to have at least a seven day supply of emergency food. Dry kibble can go in sturdy zip-lock types of bags. For canned food, be sure to pack a can opener, lids and a few plastic spoons.
As an example:
Focus on only the essentials for your specific pets. Here are some ideas for your consideration: a roll of gauze, tape, 4×4 bandage material, tweezers, scissors, hydrogen peroxide, bleach, Benadryl, irrigation syringe, sterile saline solution, Q-tips or cotton swabs, handi-wipes, tongue depressors or wood ice cream sticks (can be used as splints), paper towels, emergency blanket, flattened e-collar, and a muzzle (yes – a muzzle is important because pets can become unpredictable or aggressive when they are injured or frightened).
Dogs: Kong toys or other treat dispensing toys, treats, chew toys, a cushion, blanket, or towel, and a shirt worn by you (the scent of you – their person – does wonders for a stressed dog).
Cats: Catnip toys or other small toys they can bat around inside of their carrier, a towel to cover the carrier, and pheromone spray such as Feliway (a cat carrier covered by a towel sprayed with pheromone spray does wonders for a stressed cat).
Newspaper or something similar (to serve as an absorbent) to line the bottom of the crates and cages.
For dogs: These bags come in rolls of 100 and take up little space.
For cats, you can get creative with:
- A shoebox and plastic bags.
- Shallow disposable aluminum foil roasting pans.
- Shallow disposable cardboard trays.
- Sturdy paper or plastic plates.
Please remember, this is all about temporary emergency shelter, not the resort accommodations your dogs and cats may be accustomed to. Cats will figure out how to do their business with very little kitty litter to scratch around in and dogs will be happy you brought them with you.
Here is a fantastic video from the AVMA during which the shoebox litterbox preparation is demonstrated.
While you’re at it, you may want to prepare two evac-packs at the same time; one pack goes in your vehicle while the other is kept inside your home.
We want to hear from you. Have you ever had to evacuate with your pets? If so, would you care to share your story? Is there anything we should add to the above list? Please let us know.