1. Alert Rescuers to Pets in Your Home
If you don’t already have one, get a window alert sticker so emergency responders know there is an animal in your home that needs to be rescued. You can find these decals for different types of animals at pet stores or other sites like Amazon.com, or you can make your own. If you leave and have the time, please note on them that your pets have been removed from your home so rescuers don’t waste time needlessly looking for a pet that isn’t there.
2. Make a First Aid Kit
Having a first aid kit handy for your pet is never a bad idea. To make your own, Catster, the Red Cross, Petco and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) all offer handy lists of items that should be in it, or if you don’t want to make one yourself, you can buy a ready-made one from number of places, including the ASPCA.
3. Have Supplies Ready
Having a bag or container of supplies ready to go can obviously save time if you need to leave in a hurry and will also be useful if you get trapped at home. Does anyone really want to spend time looking for the can opener or trying to remember what your pet will need for two weeks when there’s a tornado coming?
Survival kits like these for dogs and cats are also available from a number of stores if you don’t want to put your own together. Otherwise, some essential items to have on hand include stored water, extra cat litter, newspaper and trash bags – in case it’s not safe to go outside – crates, carriers and cages, bowls, toys, treats, extra food and medications.
4. Update Tags
Having up-to-date tags with the correct contact information is probably a given, but having extra, or temporary, tags with the contact information for where you’ll be staying if you know ahead of time, or a backup person’s contact information, will be useful in the event that you should get separated from your pet, or are otherwise unreachable.
5. Keep Records Ready
Along with your supplies and first aid kit, keep records in a waterproof container that include copies of your pets medical history, information on food and any current medications, special needs, contact information for yourself, your vet and anyone else who should be contacted as a backup in an emergency if you are unreachable. Also be sure to include photos of your pet, and of yourself with your pet to help prove ownership.
6. Know Where to Go
Unfortunately, there are many places that will not allow pets during a disaster, including Red Cross shelters. However, you can check in advance to see if there are hotels/motels in your area that allow pets, or ones that will make exceptions to allow them in an emergency situation. There are also a number of websites that list pet-friendly accommodations, including petswelcome.com and petscanstay.com. Shelters, boarding facilities, vet practices or other animal-related businesses may also be willing and able to take pets on a temporary basis during a disaster.
7. Have a Long-Term Plan
In the event that you won’t be able to return to your home for a while, or in that worst case scenario that leaves your family with no home to return to at all, you may need a long term plan for your pet, which could involve boarding or having a trusted friend or relative keep agree to keep them until you can get settled again.