Some of the most indelible impressions made while watching any natural disaster coverage is that of pets abandoned, helpless and struggling to survive amid the chaos around them.
According to PetHelpful’s Jody Newton, who has written about emergency management and disasters for first responders for over seven years, Hurricane Katrina opened many pet owners’ eyes about how to effectively evacuate, accommodate and entertain their pets in the event of an emergency.
Now, as Hurricane Ian is forecast to hit South Carolina after pummelling Florida, it is a good time to remind pet owners to not only equip themselves in the case of a natural catastrophe, but also to prepare an emergency “go bag” for their furry companions.
Whether you manage to get out of harm’s way or to a nearby shelter (many more shelters are accommodating pets now, Newton says), making a retreat less traumatic is important to pets who won’t know what is happening during an emergency. Organizations like Red Cross, ASPCA and Ready.gov have lots of disaster preparedness tips for humans and their pets.
As Insider notes, there are many ready-made kits on the market, such as the Pet Evac Pak Dog Emergency Survival Kit. However, you’ll save money by assembling your own.
At a minimum, it’s a good idea to gather up-to-date vaccination records — a shelter might require them — plus ID and any medications your pet takes regularly into a fireproof and waterproof pet document bag. Here are some addition items Newton recommends for keeping your pet healthy and happy while you wait out the emergency.
- Food, water and treats: Pack a three-day supply.
- Bowls: Non-tip bowls are best. Collapsible bowls, available from many outdoor stores, save space in the bag.
- Bedding: A bed, if you can fit it, or even a blanket from home will help to calm a pet.
- Toys: Familiar toys will help keep your pet and family members entertained and more relaxed in a stressful and anxious time.
- Extra collar and leash: Having control of your pet during a traumatic event is crucial. Make sure you have a labelled second collar and leash in case you lose one.
- Animal first-aid kit: Pack a kit with tweezers, gauze, bandages, scissors, alcohol and antiseptic. As PetHelpful notes, pantyhose can be useful as a flexible wrap over a wound. If you want a ready-made kit, Insider suggests the Pet First Aid Kit and LED Emergency Collar from Rayco.
- Poop bags for dogs, litter pan for cats: A supply of poop bags or zip-top bags is essential for dogs. For cats, PetHelpful recommends putting a small pan of litter in a cat carrier. Remember to pack spare litter and bags to dispose of soiled litter.
Pet carrier/crate: Crates and carriers can be large and cumbersome and obviously won’t be a part of your pet’s emergency go bag. But they are essential for transporting and securing your pet in times of trouble.
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