Saturday May 9 is National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day!

This Saturday, May 9th, is National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day. Who knew such a day existed?  I subscribe to some pet related newsletters, so that is how I found out.  There was some really good information from Hill’s Pet Nutrition about the importance of being “pet prepared” in the event of an emergency. While families typically have disaster plans in place, they may often overlook the importance of having specific plans and preparations relating to the family pet. In coordination with National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day on May 9th, Hill’s is taking the opportunity to share best practices for pet parents to be ready for any type of an emergency.

Your disaster plan should always include accommodations for your pets.
Your disaster plan should always include accommodations for your pets.

As our society and the world in general seems to be getting more dangerous every day, many “Doomsday preppers” have begun to stockpile items, secure shelter and plan for other items and necessities should some sort of disaster strikes when there would be a need to “hunker down” for a time. Don is a big fan of some of those shows and says we should prepare, but I am not as into it as he is, and I am not organized enough to keep track of 15 years worth of rations and other emergency items that might come in handy in case of emergency!

While Doomsday may or may not be in our near future, there are still weather and other disaster related events that can often occur without warning that would entail needing an emergency preparedness plan. Here in the Ocala area, we may not be too worried about earthquakes or even hurricanes since we are so far inland, but it is always good to have a plan in case something does occur that may require you to leave your home for an undefined length of time.  Most times in the event of a disaster, the Red Cross, local authorities and other help is on site to assist with shelter, food and first aid for the humans, but what about the pets?  The good news is that there is help available for our furry loved ones as well.

Those at Hill’s Pet Nutrition have created a Disaster Relief Network which helps pets during times of disaster. According to Hill’s, the “first of its-kind Disaster Relief Network “was established in 2013 as an extension of Hill’s Food, Shelter & Love® program, which has donated more than $280 million worth of Hill’s Science Diet® brand foods to over 1,000 shelters in the United States and helped more than eight million pets find new homes. In the last two years, the Hill’s Disaster Relief Network delivered free food to more than 60 different shelters and veterinary clinics across the country in response to 25 major incidents – including floods in Colorado, fires in Idaho and Arizona, the fertilizer plant explosion in Texas, the mudslide in Washington state and tornadoes in the central and southern regions of the country. In 2015, the Hill’s Disaster Relief Network has already assisted with three incidents – most recently with the March tornado damage in Moore, Oklahoma.”

The San Diego Humane Society, a member of the Hill’s Disaster Relief Network, assisted with response to wildfires in California. (Photo credit: San Diego Humane Society)
The San Diego Humane Society, a member of the Hill’s Disaster Relief Network, assisted with response to wildfires in California. (Photo credit: San Diego Humane Society)

A pet being lost due to a disaster is a heartbreaking issue. Imagine the worry you would feel if you were required to leave your home during some unforeseen disaster but had to leave your pet behind. The pet would be frightened and stressed and may end up far away if he or she runs away in fear. According to a paper published by the University of Colorado entitled “No Place Like Home: Pet-to-Family Reunification After Disaster “- more than 200,000 pets were displaced after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, and 95 percent were never reunited with their families.

Hill’s has compiled a list of seven tips to ensure your pet will be safe during an emergency:

o   Ensure your pet can be identified by either a microchip or collar ID tag and that contact information is up-to-date.

o   Prepare a “Pet Emergency Go-Kit” of pet supplies that is readily accessible in an emergency. Your Pet Emergency Go-Kit should include: first aid supplies and guide book; three-days’ supply of pet food (in a waterproof container) and bottled water; a safety harness and leash; waste clean-up supplies; medications and medical records; a contact list of veterinarian and pet care organizations; information on your pet’s feeding routine and any behavioral issues; comfort toys; and a blanket.

Contents to include in your Pet Emergency Go-Kit. (Photo credit: Hill’s Pet Nutrition)
Contents to include in your Pet Emergency Go-Kit. (Photo credit: Hill’s Pet Nutrition)

o   Display a pet rescue decal on your front door or window to let first responders know there is a pet in the house. Include your veterinarian’s contact information.

o   Learn where your pet likes to hide in your house when frightened. Finding your pet quickly will help you evacuate faster.

o   Identify a location to take your pet if you need to leave your immediate area. Keep in mind that disaster shelters for people may not be open to pets. Scout hotels and motels with pet-friendly policies and ask relatives or friends if they could house you and your pet.

o   Carry a picture of your pet in the event of separation.

o   If you need to evacuate, consider taking a pet carrier or crate for transport and safe-keeping

Hopefully we won’t ever have to worry about a situation where we have to evacuate and wonder what to do with our beloved pets, but it is good to know there is help available for them if needed, and having a plan is always a good thing.

Here are some other sources for further information:

 

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