Evacuations occur for all kinds of reasons. Hurricanes, floods, wildfires, train derailments, and industrial accidents could cause you to leave your home with little notice. And preparing for an emergency evacuation takes some extra planning when your family includes pets. Being prepared ensures that you and your furry loved ones will have everything you’ll need while you’re uprooted.
Pre-Pack Your Pet’s Go-Bag
In an emergency evacuation, there’s not much time to pack for yourself and your pets! Avoid forgetting the essentials your pet will need by pre-packing the following emergency kit:
Enough food and water for a week. Pack your pet’s food in a waterproof, resealable container. Set a calendar reminder to swap out the food every three months so it’s always fresh. Include lightweight food and water bowls, and don’t forget a can opener if your pet eats canned food.
Enough medication for a week. Medication should also be packed in a waterproof, resealable container and rotated every three months. If your pet’s medication requires refrigeration, pack a small cooler with a note reminding you to grab the medication from the refrigerator and some ice packs from the freezer.
Proof of vaccination and ownership. Emergency shelters might not accept tags as proof of vaccination, so pack a copy of your pet’s most recent vaccination certificate. If you and your pet should become separated, you’ll also need a photo to make posters. And when your pet is found, you may need proof of ownership (like a microchip number) to claim him or her. Keep all three in a sealed, waterproof bag.
An extra collar with ID tag and a leash. Your pet probably has an ID tag, but if cell service is down or you’re not at your home phone number, it might not have the best contact information for you. Stick a blank label on the back of an ID tag and put it in your emergency kit along with a permanent marker. That way you’ll be able to write your temporary information on it and attach it to your pet’s collar.
A muzzle. Some emergency shelters require dogs to be muzzled before they’re admitted. Pack a soft muzzle you can easily slip on your pup if needed.
A familiar toy, blanket, or bed.Being evacuated is stressful for everyone. Having a few comforts from home will help relieve any anxiety your pet might be feeling.
A kennel or carrier. If you’re planning to take your pet with you to an emergency shelter or hotel, be sure to have a carrier or kennel along. Some emergency shelters require pets to contained, and hotels might also require a carrier or kennel if you need to leave your pet unattended in the room.
Waste bags to pick up after your dog and/or a litter box with litter for your cat.
Not all emergency shelters allow pets, and those that do may have strict guidelines. Familiarize yourself with your community’s evacuation facilities and policies so you’ll know your options. If your local shelter doesn’t accept pets, here are the steps to plan your family’s safe evacuation:
The path of dangerous weather and possible road closures might impact your planned escape route, so map out two or three possible destinations. Then locate pet friendly accommodations in each city.
If you’re planning to stay at a hotel or campground, use a website like GoPetFriendly to find the best options. Ask about breed and weight restrictions and any additional pet fees. When you make your selections, print out the name, address, phone number, and driving directions to each location and keep them in your emergency kit.
It takes time to make sure you’re prepared for an emergency evacuation with pets. But a little advance planning can save you a lot of stress and heartache if the need arises. Know yourself, know your pets, and make sure you have a plan to keep everyone safe and happy!
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