The recent devastating fires in Colorado caused not only the evacuation of thousands of residents, but also resulted in hundreds of pets being left in the care of shelters when their hotel or evacuation center did not accept pets. Hopefully, none of us will ever be involved in a disaster such as this, but it is important for your pet’s sake to be prepared for an event such as a fire, flood, hurricane, earthquake or other disaster. You might think you have plenty of time to prepare, but once disaster strikes, it’s often too late to begin your preparation. Some simple steps you can take now:
- Ideally, identify the home of a friend or family member that will allow you to bring your pet with you in the event of an emergency. If this is not possible, find a boarding facility, animal shelter or pet-friendly hotel in advance, so you know just where your pets will be able to safely stay in case you are forced to evacuate. Never leave your pets behind in your home since you may not be allowed to return for an extended period of time, and the conditions in your home may not be safe.
- Make sure you have a sturdy carrier or crate for each pet now. The carrier should be clearly marked with your contact information. Since you will be away from home, include a cell phone number and/or contact information for a friend or relative you are in touch with that lives out of the disaster area.
- Each pet should have identification, ideally a collar and tag as well as a form of permanent identification such as a microchip or tattoo in case your pet loses his collar. Ensure your contact information is up-to-date.
- If there is a chance you will have to evacuate, put together a pet survival kit that includes food, water, any medications your pet requires, dog waste pick-up bags, a leash, blanket, and toys for your pet.
- Have a clear, current photo of each pet that you can use in case he or she becomes lost or missing. Make sure your pet is current on vaccinations, and have a copy of your pet’s medical and vaccination records. Keep all of this information in a waterproof container or re-sealable plastic bag.
- Some disasters such as earthquakes or tornadoes strike suddenly, and you may have no chance to evacuate. Get a Rescue Alert window decal and place it on your window in a place that emergency workers will be able to easily spot. This sticker will let rescuers know how many pets are inside the house. Note: if you are able to evacuate with your pets, and you are able to safely do so, write “Evacuated” across the sticker so emergency workers do not waste time searching for pets that have been evacuated.
As a concerned pet guardian, you will rest easier knowing that your pet is prepared in case of an emergency, and your advance preparation may even save your pet’s life.