The SPCA of Texas recommends preparing you and your animal companions for a disaster. Whether it be a natural disaster, a forced evacuation, or a situation from which you might never return home, here is how you can prevent your pet from suffering additional stress:
Before disaster strikes, talk with friends and relatives who live both inside and outside your immediate area about a reciprocal emergency plan. Make arrangements for them to obtain your pets if you should never return home. Or, if you are faced with a temporary disaster, the other party would be able to house your pets until you are on your feet again, and vice versa.
- If an emergency forces you to evacuate, take your pets with you! If conditions are too dangerous for you to remain, then they are also too dangerous for your animal companions.
- Make sure that you have appropriately-sized pet carriers for each of your animals. Write each pet's name on its carrier, along with your contact info and that of an emergency contact person.
- Have a harness and/or leash for each of your pets. When under stress, even the calmest dog or cat may try to run away from you.
- Attach id tags to your pets. Be sure to include the name and phone number of a friend or family member that is outside of your area. You may also want to consider having your pets microchipped.
- Make sure that you have enough emergency rations for at least one week: pet food, bottled water, bowls and a can opener. Also be sure to bring along a supply of any medications that your animals are taking. For cats, don't forget a litter box and cat litter!
- If you are in the military, make arrangements in advance for friends or family to care for your pets incase you are deployed. Draft a written contract outlining the arrangement and cover important issues such as what will happen to your pet should your caretaker no longer be able to keep it and what will happen if you're unable to reclaim your pet.
- Assemble a packet of information for each of your pets and place the documents in a ziploc bag. The packet should include:
- A health certificate with current vaccination information
- The name, phone numbers (regular and emergency) and address of your veterinarian
- Current, close-up photographs of your pets (in case your pet should get lost)
- Pet personality profiles
- Names and addresses of people who will be willing to care for your pets during an emergency
- Assemble a first-aid kit that includes sterile gauze pads and rolls, bandages, alcohol prep pads, instant ice packs, latex gloves, hydrogen peroxide, cotton balls, antiseptic solution, antibiotic ointment, a small flashlight, scissors, nail clippers, tweezers, a blanket, and a spare collar and leash.
- A list of various hotels that accept pets. If you have advance warning, as in the case of a hurricane, make reservations and plans to leave as early as possible. If you wait, hotels could be booked.
Again, collect all these supplies and information ahead of time. Don't make the mistake of thinking that you can assemble necessary items at the time of a crisis.