The time to prepare for an emergency is before you have one.
This counts for manâ€™s and womanâ€™s best friends.
Tall or small; furry, feathered, scaled, or bald; young or old. The animals who count on us for their everyday requirements of food, shelter, and love need to have a family evacuation/emergency plan of their own.
During Hurricane Katrina in 2005 so many humans fled to shelters with their beloved pets that the Federal Emergency Management Agency realized that plans must be put in place for the creatures, too.
So June is now designated as National Pet Preparedness Month. A time for all stewards of Godâ€™s creatures to take stock of the resources at hand, to gather items and set them aside for that moment of need.
In addition to general information and seasonal recommendations, FEMA identified four key areas pet and large animal owners should consider when making plans for their fellow creatures: emergency kit, evacuation, shelter and identification.
To make your planning easier, take out a large pad of paper and jot down the names of each of your pets. Consider any special needs they may have, just as you would for a human family member. Write down items you will need for each pet should you have to leave your home for five days.
A pet emergency supply kit should contain a five-day supply of water and food. No one likes stale or expired food. So refresh your kit periodically by rotating the food to your pantry and replace it with a fresh bag.
Have a leash and harness for each pet. For caged pets, make sure their homes are secure. I keep clips I can snap onto pet doors for added security, for example.
Does your pet require medication? Have that in a location where you can easily grab it and toss it into your supply kit. Consider getting some CBD oil for pets with anxiety.
Vaccination records should be kept with your kit. You may be required to show them at a shelter and itâ€™s a good idea to be up to date anyway. Consider scanning these and uploading the file to your personal email, too. Accidents happen and records can be forgotten.
If you evacuate your home, take this kit with you. Make it light enough to carry or put it into several containers you can easily load into a vehicle.
Remember plastic baggies, litter boxes and pooper scoopers.
Many of us have emergency kits for our pets, but how many of us ever practice taking our pets out â€” all at once â€” to simulate an emergency? FEMA suggests taking the animals out on a â€śdry runâ€ť so they will be more comfortable if you need to evacuate in an emergency.
Get pets familiar with crates and carriers.
Identify locations you can evacuate to that accept pets. While most emergency shelters may accept animals, you canâ€™t count on that possibility. Have solid Plans A and B.
If staying at a hotel is a possibility, set aside some cash in your emergency kit in case you need it for a pet deposit.
If you and your pet become separated, how will you prove to a shelter that you are the genuine owner of that animal?
For animals that can be microchipped â€” do so and keep your information up-to-date online.
FEMA suggests taking a selfie with your pet and uploading it to your email or social media. Not only is this helpful for dogs and cats, this might be invaluable when identifying exotic animals. Also take pictures of your pet with an eye to identifying markings.
Make sure tags are legible and current. In a pinch, use duct tape and a permanent marker and write your petâ€™s name and phone number on their collar.
Donâ€™t leave your pets behind in an emergency, unless ordered to do so by authorities on site. Pets can become lost or injured.
Emergencies come in all shapes and sizes.
My husband and I ended up using some of the resources we set aside for a pet evacuation when one of our dogs blew out a disc and required emergency back surgery. I was on a business trip and we had a pet sitter.
Fortunately, we already had a plan in place. Communication was already lined up. Our pet medical records were on file and the emergency surgery took place while I was still in Arizona. The travel crate I keep for an emergency evacuation became Andrewâ€™s new home for several months of crate rest after surgery.
God willing, you will never need this plan. But one never knows. Stay safe out there, friends.
Send your event for consideration in Susanâ€™s column to [emailÂ protected].