With our home state in a State of Emergency being ravaged by wildfires we're seeing a lot of pets being lost in the chaos. Evacuations are happening quickly, and in the frantic state many household pets are bolting out of fear instead of loading and going with their families. Preparing for the worst can help you from experiencing it if the time ever comes. We're going to go through some of our own disaster preparedness tips here today.
Don't Wait! Start Preparing Today!
Start by making sure all of your pets have proper identification. Microchips, tattoos, tags on their collars all can help reunite a lost fur kid. Make sure tags are visible and that the information is up to date!
If your tag allows the room we suggest placing your cell phone number and the number of a trusted friend or relative outside of the area if you are ever forced to evacuate your area.
Put together a pet disaster kit. Include things like extra bowls, leashes, harnesses, crates, up to date photos, medical information. One of the things we've done is put together an "In Case Of Emergency" binder. This binder has individual pages for each of our dogs that include an up to date photo, dietary needs, and any other special needs the dog may have. Having up to date photos helps identify and establish ownership if you and your pet were to be separated.
Know your local resources! Some communities have groups that are solely focused on providing emergency sheltering for pets, and other communities simply don’t have the resources. Never assume that you will be allowed to bring your pet to an emergency shelter.
If your community does not have pet friendly options start locating pet friendly hotels, make arrangements with friends or family, locate boarding facilities that may suit your needs, and don't rule out local animal shelters! Many animal shelters offer emergency fostering in times of natural disaster. If you aren't home when disaster strikes, be sure to set up a contingency plan with a neighbor or other trusted nearby individual. Work up a plan that best suits your needs and gives you and your pets the best chance of survival and reunion if the time were to ever arise.
Stay and Play or Load and Go?
Evacuation plans often have various stages or orders based on the emergency at hand. If you are told to shelter in place, identify a room you can designate as a "safe room," put your emergency supplies in that room in advance, including your pet's crate and supplies. Have any medications and a supply of pet food and water inside watertight containers, along with your other emergency supplies. Keeping everything stored in one location keeps you prepared to stay or grab and go. This will help lower the stress on you, which will lower the stress your pet feels!
If you are forced to evacuate rule number one is, if it isn't safe for you, it isn't safe for your pets. Even if you think you will only be gone for a few hours, take your pets. You have no way of knowing how long you'll be kept out of the area, and you may not be able, or allowed, to go back for your pets. Emergency scenes can change drastically quickly. Pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Those left inside your home can escape through storm-damaged areas, such as broken windows. Pets turned loose to fend for themselves are likely to become victims of exposure, starvation, predators, contaminated food or water, or accidents. Leaving dogs tied or chained outside in a disaster is a death sentence.
Rule Number Two: Don't wait for a mandatory evacuation order. Evacuations often happen in stages. Once you have been notified to start preparing for evacuation is the time you should be getting your pets ready to go. People who have waited to be evacuated by emergency officials have been told to leave their pets behind. The smell of smoke, high winds or lightening may make your pet more fearful and difficult to load into a crate or carrier. Evacuating before conditions become severe will keep everyone safer and make the process less stressful. Also, crate training your pets comes in as an essential here! Working with your pet early on establishing the crate as a safe, comforting space will help the pet want to seek out that safe area in times of stress. This will help limit their reluctance to go into the crate which will save you time.
Know Your Way Out!
Do you know your way around your home area? Do you know multiple ways to get out of the area? In times of emergency main arterials could be inaccessible. It's a prudent idea to know a couple alternate routes out of your home area! If you don't already know how you'd navigate around the 'normal route', time to hop in the car and start learning the roads. During an emergency is not the time to have to learn a new set of roads!
After The Storm Has Passed
Once the emergency has been mitigated by authorities and it has been deemed safe for you and your family to return to your home, the emergency for your pet may still be very real. What was once identifiable by smell or visual land marks may have changed dramatically. Your pet may be disoriented and easily scared in these situations. Your home may have been damaged, or fence lines weakened, allowing for easy escape routes for frightened pets. Keep your pets under your control and close to you at all times until they readjust to the surroundings.
Be patient with your pets after a disaster. Try to get them back into their normal routines as soon as possible. Be ready for behavioral problems caused by the stress of the situation. If these problems persist, or if your pet seems to be having any health problems, talk to your veterinarian.
Be sure to search your home and yard for displaced wildlife. In situations like flood and wildfire, wild animals may have sought refuge in your home or outbuildings. This can pose serious threat to you and your pets! Remember, they are just as scared and stressed as you were!
Be prepared and we hope you never have the occasion to put your preparedness to the test! Stay safe out there this summer!
Growing up in Montana my love of the Siberian Husky started at a young age. It has been quite a journey so far. There has been much to learn and still a lot more yet to learn! I truly believe that we are never too old, too experienced, or too full of ourselves to learn something new. I also believe that knowledge is useless unless we are willing to share it with others.