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While you never want to find yourself in an emergency, you can’t always prevent disasters from occurring. The best thing you can do is plan for them — and involve your pets in those plans to ensure their safety. It’s the best way to ensure you’re reunited after a separation or can evacuate somewhere safely together.
Why Would Your Pet Need an Emergency Plan?
Everyone needs an emergency plan. If you have kids or older adults in the home, you’ve likely created an escape plan for emergencies that happen in the house. These plans typically detail exits and fast ways out of the home, including what to do if family members are separated. Since pets can’t speak your language, including them in plans is a bit more challenging.
You’ll have to pick someone to be in charge of your pet. Ideally, this person would be you, but if you have mobility issues or other limitations, you should pass the responsibility on to another reliable adult. Over 65% of American households have one or more pets, so involving yours in your emergency plans is necessary — you want to keep everyone safe.
Make time to include your pets in emergency arrangements. These building blocks will help you create an inclusive emergency plan for every type of pet.
1. Practice Escape Routes
Emergency drills help your household prepare for the real thing. You never know when disaster will strike, so it pays to be prepared from the get-go. You should strive to complete your evacuation in under two minutes to ensure everyone’s well-being — and that means practicing with your animals to get them used to walking on a certain harness or being put into a carrier.
2. Prevent Emergencies When You’re Away
You can’t always watch over your pet, which means you should consider what may happen if you’re away from home when disaster strikes. You could put a sticker on your windows that details the number of pets you have inside to help first responders. Keeping your pet confined while you’re away, like in a crate or bedroom, can also help people find them faster.
Volunteer firefighters protect almost 30% of the population in the U.S. They will try to save anyone in your home, pets included. In the case of a house fire, you want to make it as easy for them as possible to locate your animal. You can also take it a few steps further and try to prevent house fires by not leaving appliances on while you leave and keeping candles out of reach of pets.
3. Stay Up-to-Date
Keeping your pet up-to-date on any medications ensures they’ll be accepted almost anywhere pets are allowed. Many kennels require the Bordetella vaccine, which can help dogs when exposed to others. Likewise, keeping all their safe veterinary information in one place can help you grab it in a hurry or transfer it to someone else.
If your pet has any equipment they need to help them move effectively, make sure you know where it is and can locate any backups, if applicable. For example, around one in every five dogs experiences arthritis, so you might have arthritis medication and even a support harness or wheelchair to help them get around, if necessary.
4. Keep Contact Information Updated
Your pet should have your contact information on them at all times. You should also strive to include whether your dog needs additional consideration, such as if they’re reactive or have a certain condition.
For example, since almost 25% of dogs and cats over seven have a cognitive disorder, you may want to note that on a collar or harness tag. The extra information will help volunteers or professionals understand more about your pet and help them to the best of their ability.
Have some fail-safe contact information readily available with your pet’s other important information. If someone other than you gets to your pet first, they need to know who to contact. Similarly, if Wi-Fi or cell phone service is out, you need to know the addresses of sanctuaries where you and your pet can stay at.
5. Know Which Places Take Pets
If you need to place your pet somewhere else during an emergency, look up potential services and keep a hard copy of a list somewhere. This list should include the addresses and phone numbers of people or facilities that can house your pet temporarily and care for them when you can’t.
If you evacuate somewhere with your pet, you’ll need to find facilities to accommodate them. Unfortunately, most local shelters don’t take pets unless they’re service animals, so you may need to opt for a hotel or motel to house both you and your pets. Have these addresses and phone numbers ready in case you don’t have access to the internet.
What to Pack in a Pet Emergency Kit
One of the most important parts of disaster preparedness is having your emergency bag ready to go for whoever needs it. You may not always be able to grab all your pets’ things from your house before needing to evacuate, so having a bag with all the necessities can help you get out faster. Ideally, keep it by the front door or your first available exit.
Some items you should include in your pet’s emergency bag include:
Bowls for water and food
A leash, harness and extra collar
Medicine and vet records
Additional information for the care of your pet
You may also want to pack other identifying information in their bag. For example, including a photo of you and your pet could help you get reunited faster if you’re separated. This bag should help you and your pet, whether you have to hand it off to someone or keep it as you and your pet find a place to evacuate together.
Be Prepared for Every Situation
You can never tell what life has in store. A disaster could strike at any time, so it’s best to be prepared by any means possible. Creating emergency plans and kits can aid both you and your pet in handling the uncertain future. It’s never too early to get them together — it might save your or your pets’ lives.
Guest Author: Jack Shaw
Jack Shaw is a passionate freelance writer with a focus on promoting health and well-being. With a deep love for animals, he strives to bridge the gap between human wellness and animal care. His articles aim to inspire readers and their pets to lead healthier lives while fostering a compassionate connection with the world around them.