Whether it’s wildfires, earthquakes, tornadoes or hurricanes, pet parents need to prepare their furry friends for disasters, say officials from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA).
That means keeping animal family members in mind when planning for emergencies, said Madeline Bernstein, spcaLA president.
Even if pet parents haven’t assembled a pet disaster kit or made back-up plans to board their pet, they can at least keep their animal’s identification and immunizations current, Bernstein added.
“Besides, you always have to have your pet ID’d and vaccinated,” Bernstein said.
Disaster plans for a fire, hurricane, earthquake or any other calamity are the same, Bernstein said.
- Dogs and cats should always be microchipped and wear current ID tags. This can make reuniting easier if you are separated from your pets.
- You should learn pet first aid and CPR, because if roads are blocked, emergency crews may not be able to help right away.
- Try not to show stress or anxiety. Many animals can sense stress, which can cause pets to display aggression.
- Make sure pet structures are secure. A kennel gate can swing open during an earthquake, or dog houses may have exposed nails that can cause injuries. Check your pet’s housing and favorite hiding places for hazardous debris.
- Display a “Pet Alert” sticker or sign on the doors and windows of your home so rescuers know animals are inside. If you leave with your pet during a disaster, hang an “Animal Evacuated” sign so emergency crews can go where assistance is needed.
- Keep vaccinations current in case your pet must stay in a shelter with other animals and be exposed to infectious diseases.
- Alert local shelters immediately if your pet is missing.
Pet parents should also assemble a kit which includes the following:
- Your pets’ current vaccination records
- Your veterinarian’s contact information
- Photos of your pets in case you are separated from them
- Collars, leashes and carriers for safe transport
- At least a three-week supply of your pets’ regular food and bottled water
- Bowls, a can opener and utensils for feeding your pets
- Treats and toys to comfort your pets
- A first-aid kit that includes antiseptic, topical ointment, dressing, prescribed medications and a pet first-aid book
- A soft muzzle
- A blanket or towels
- Disposable baggies to pick up after dogs
- Cat litter, scooper and a temporary litter box, such as a disposable, aluminum-foil pan
- A trusted friend or neighbor who will get your pets to safety in case you are away during a disaster
- A back-up plan to board animals in an emergency
The American Red Cross does not allow pets in its shelters except for service animals. Red Cross officials advise that you check pet policies with local motels and ask if they will waive their restrictions in an emergency. Pet parents should keep a list of pet-friendly places, including boarding facilities, veterinarians and local shelters with 24-hour phone numbers.
Shelters should be a last resort, since they may be overwhelmed during disasters.
PHOTO: Jocelyn Augustino