REMEMBER ..... even during an emergency you are still responsible for your pet!
Our pets are part of our families. During emergency situations it is important to know what to do with our animal companions to keep them safe. Emergencies can happen at any time. Your animal's best protection is to be with you and taking your pet with you requires special planning, so take a few minutes and assemble a pet emergency kit. Make arrangements beforehand for your pet in the event that you must evacuate. Make a list of possible friends or family outside the area who could take your pet, or hotels or motels which will allow you to stay there with your pet. Add to this list boarding facilities, possible animal shelters and veterinarians who may also board your animal.
Always make sure that your pet is properly identified with an ID tag containing your name and phone number or has a municipal animal tag or microchip your pet. It may be a good idea to include the name and phone number of your veterinarian and that of a friend or relative outside of your immediate area on the ID tag.
Animals get anxious during emergencies. Keep dogs securely leashed. If possible, keep your pet in a carrying cage with a familiar blanket so your pet feels as secure as possible. Do not leave your pet alone, with strangers, or without a leash at any time. During an emergency your pet may panic, behave in a distressed manner or even run away and end up lost. Or, because of its distressed state, your pet may bite someone.
Pet Emergency Kits An emergency kit for your pet should be kept in the same spot as your family emergency kit and can contain some of the following items:
- Food and water, bowls, can opener, if needed.
- Blanket and perhaps a small toy.
- Sturdy leash and / or harness.
- Cat litter and pan (if required) and plastic bags.
- Carrier for transporting your pet.
- Keep a list list of medications, a copy of medical records (including vaccinations), name and phone number of your veterinarian, information on feeding schedules, medical and behavioural traits, just in case you have to board your pet.
- Have a current photo of your pet and a record of municipal tag number, etc., should your pet get lost and you need to identify the pet from afar.
- Muzzle (if required).
Pets and Evacuations
If safety permits, take your pet with you! Pets should not be left behind during an evacuation, as they may be injured, lost or even killed as a result of the emergency. Remember to take your pet emergency kit with you when you evacuate.
Find a Safe Place Ahead of Time Don't wait until disaster strikes to do your research. Well before an emergency occurs, try to find out which area hotels / motels accept pets during an emergency. Make a list of this information. It is important to note that evacuation centers may not accept pets, with the exception of service animals. For that reason you must be prepared to do research ahead of time to ensure that you are not separated from your animal. If you absolutely cannot take your pet with you, and you are evacuating before the emergency starts, it will help if you can have some arrangements made ahead of time to take your pet to a safe place - a pet shelter, a relative or close friend who can care for the animal while you're temporarily out of your home.
In Case You're Not Home A little bit of preplanning can help lessen the stress in the event of an emergency. An evacuation or disaster may strike when you are not home or out of the house. Make arrangements well in advance with a neighbour to take your pets and meet you at a specified location.
After the Storm - Returning Home
In the days following an evacuation, don't let your pet go outside unattended. Familiar scents and landmarks may have changed and your pet may get easily confused or lost. If there has been damage to your property, be aware that there could be sharp materials, electrical wires or other hazards in and around you home. Inspect your property carefully before allowing your pet to enter. Also remember the behaviour of your pet may be different after an emergency. Monitor your pet and contact your veterinarian if you are concerned.
For more information about pets and emergencies check out The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at http://www.ontariospca.ca