In the event of a natural disaster or evacuation, these are some things to consider to keep your pet safe and be ready for them when they look to you to lead them through an emergency.
Before the disaster, make sure that your pets are current on their vaccinations. Pet shelters may require proof of vaccines. Have a current photograph. Keep a collar with identification on your pet and have a leash on hand to control your pet. Have a properly-sized pet carrier for each animal - carriers should be large enough for the animal to stand and turn around.
Plan your evacuation strategy and don’t forget your pet. Specialized pet shelters, animal control shelters, veterinary clinics and friends and relatives out of harm’s way are all potential refuges for your pet during a disaster.
During the disaster, some may choose to take their animals to a pet shelter. Pet shelters will be filled on a first come, first served basis. Call ahead and determine availability. Animals brought there are required to have proper identification collar and rabies tag, proper identification on all belongings, a carrier or cage, a leash, an ample supply of food, water and food bowls, any necessary medications, specific care instructions and news papers or trash bags for clean-up.
If you keep your pet with you, bring them indoors well in advance of a storm - reassure them and remain calm.
After the disaster, when things have calmed down, walk pets on a leash until they become re-oriented to their home. Often familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and pets could easily be confused and become lost. Also, downed power lines, reptiles brought in with high water and debris can all pose a threat for animals after a disaster.
If pets cannot be found after a disaster, contact the local animal control office to find out where lost animals can be recovered. Bring along a picture of your pet if possible.
After a disaster animals can become aggressive or defensive - monitor their behavior.
According to the organization Katrina Dog Rescue, when Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana, more than 250,000 pets were left to fend for themselves. Some owners had left food and water for their pets expecting to return within a few days. Those travelling on government provided transport were not permitted to take their pets with them and had to leave them behind.
The owners were unable to return for their pets and the food ran out. Dogs and cats were forced to survive without their owners. Animal rescuers, shelters and Humane Societies from all over the USA and Canada sent volunteers to the flooded area to rescue as many animals as they could. They searched flooded towns house by house looking for pets that had been locked in. Thousands of lucky pets were rescued and transported to re-homing centers in the USA and Canada. Some of the dogs and cats were reunited with their owners months later, others found a new home. Some people are still looking for their pets.
One way to keep track of your pet is by having a microchip implanted in them. The chip is registered to your phone number or e-mail address and if your pet is found, chances are they may scan your pet to see if it has a chip inside. According to HomeAgain Microchipping, a veterinarian simply injects a microchip for pets, about the size of a grain of rice (12mm), beneath the surface of your pets skin between the shoulder blades. The process is similar to a routine shot, takes only a few seconds, and your pet will not react any more than he would to a vaccination. No anesthetic is required. Speak to your pet’s veterinarian if you are interested in microchipping your pet.