Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Prepare Your Pet for the Preposterous

National Dog Day.  That’s right, I said it.  Those very words bring excitement to all the Milk-Bone and Greenies lovers out there.  National Dog Day.  But why would I talk about National Dog Day on a blog dedicated to disaster preparedness and community resilience?  Unfortunately, getting your pet ready for a disaster is often an overlooked area that needs to be discussed.  So let’s talk about Fido and Fang getting fit for fire safety.
While you’re making your own preparedness kit for yourself and your family, it’s important to also prepare any pets you may have.  Consider the following:

Preparing for a disaster:
  • Know which hotels and motels can accept pets and ask about exceptions during an emergency.
  • Include your pets in evacuation drills, as well as being comfortable in a crate and separated from you for a short period of time.
  • Make sure they’re vaccinated and that you have records along with your other important documents.
  • Ensure a properly fitted collar and tags are up to date and consider having your pet micro-chipped.

During a disaster:
  • Pet disaster kit should include at least canned pet food and can opener, water, bowls, litter pan, bed, and one or two easily transportable toys.
  • Durable leashes, harnesses, and carriers for transportation to ensure the pet will not escape in the chaos.
  • Medications and records of medications for pet, if applicable, and kept in a waterproof container.
  • Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior issues, and veterinarian name and number in case you have to board your pet.
  • Photos of you and your pet – in the event you are separated, photos serve as proof to positively identify your pet.

After a disaster:
  • Behavior may change after a disaster.  They may become aggressive or defensive.
  • Gates and fences may have been damaged at your home.
  • They may become disoriented because scent markers may have been affected, causing them difficulty in finding their way home.
  • Microscopic hazards, such as fertilizers and chemicals, may be resting at the nose and paw or hoof levels that can be dangerous to humans as well.

Recent major disasters have shown that pet owners are willing to go to great lengths to save their pets, often at the risk of their own lives.  Getting a kit, making a plan, and being informed will help you and your pet be Red Cross Ready.  Also consider enrolling in a dog or cat first aid course, offered through the American Red Cross.

Following the above tips should give you a great foundation for preparing your pet.  If you’re up for it, I challenge you to have your pet (dog, cat, lizard, sugar glider, or Komodo dragon) ready for National Cat Day on October 29, 2013!  Email me your stories for how you got your “pet-paredness” kit ready and I might include your “tail” in my blog!

Here are some additional resources that may help you further in preparing your pets for a disaster:
Central California Animal Disaster Team: http://www.ccadt.org/disaster-info.html

Amitai "Tai" S. Zuckerman 
AmeriCorps NPRC Member 2013-2014
Preparedness Coordinator
Community Preparedness and Resilience Services American Red Cross – Tulare and Kings Counties
amitai.zuckerman@redcross.org

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