You’ve probably seen the devastating effects of Hurricane Florence’s wrath as it ravaged the Carolinas. As the forecasted 18 trillion gallons of rain battered the affected areas, many residents fled their homes. Sadly, a lot of people had to leave not only their properties but pets as well. According to the US Coast Guard, they rescued 91 pets. That’s 91 pets too many! We’ve seen the heartbreaking photos and videos of dogs and cats trying to be brave as the rising waters surround them.

Pets are family and absolutely no one should be left behind. As a fur parent, do you have an emergency plan that includes your pets? If not, don’t wait until it’s too late! Here are five steps to ensure your pets are also safe during disasters.

Create An Evacuation Plan

Most homeowners who left their pets behind were forced to do so because they failed to have an evacuation plan for themselves in the first place. Not only is it heartbreaking to leave furkids behind, but it’s also a sign of neglect which can get you in trouble with the law. It’s our responsibility to ensure they’re safe and protected. After all, we wouldn’t leave a human child behind just because we’re unprepared, would we? Be prepared with an emergency evacuation plan such as:

1. Ensuring shelters are pet-friendly

Unless your pet is a service dog, most shelters for humans do not allow pets. Seek help from friends and family who are outside the affected areas. Search for hotels that allow pets in their establishments. Check with your vets about local boarding facilities for your fur kids.

2. Constantly checking on your emergency kit

Food, chew treats and medicines have expiration dates. It’s important to go through them regularly to ensure they’re still safe to use by the time disaster strikes. Make sure that you have enough resources for your furkids. You may be unable to return home for a few days and stores might be closed or out of supplies.

3. Making sure you have transportation

Not everyone has a car to ensure safe transport to shelters. Talk to your neighbors, family or friends nearby if they can lend a helping hand. Contact your local disaster management groups and government to find out what your options are when it comes to transporting your family, including your pets.

Just in case you’re sheltering at home…

If your home is a safe place to take shelter in, make sure that you prepare a room for you and your pets to take refuge in. Get rid of toxic plants and substances that are within their reach. While you feel your home is the safest place to be in times of disaster, it’s still important to have an evacuation plan in place just in case.

Make a Disaster Kit

Emergency or disaster kits are to ensure your evacuation goes as planned without a hitch. Your veterinarian can help you put one together. Your basic emergency kit should include:

  • Food and water for each pet – It’s best to pack at least 5 days worth of meal supplies. Make sure that you have can openers for your pets’ canned food.
  • Leash, harness, carriers or crates – Prevent pets from running off with sturdy crates and carriers, allowing you to transport them safely to your evacuation center.
  • Beddings and blankets – Not only will beddings and blankets keep your pets warm, but you can also use them to secure injured pets. A dog with a broken rib, for instance, needs to have a sheet wrapped around his chest to prevent further injury.
  • Medical and vaccination records – Make sure that vaccinations are up to date. Records should be kept in waterproof bags. Please include any information about their special needs and any behavioral issues.
  • Written feeding schedules – If your pet is on medication, write down the schedule for medications and your veterinarian’s contact number as well.
  • Chew treats and toys – Your pets will be anxious and frightened. Help alleviate their stress and anxiety by including their favorite treats and toys in the kit.

Be Informed

Are you in a hurricane-prone area? Do you live in a dry location that has seen too many wildfires? Disaster preparedness is also taking into consideration what natural disasters are often experienced in your area.

Think about possible flood levels, routes to evacuation centers and natural disaster seasons. For example, tornadoes frequent the South from March to May, and the North around June or July. Download apps to receive alerts and stay tuned to weather updates.

Protect yourself and your pets from injury by learning essential and practical skills such as emergency first aid. Who knows you might just save a life with your first aid knowledge?

Prep Your Pets

Natural disasters like hurricanes can give you ample time to prepare your pets and ensure their safety. But calamities like earthquakes can happen anytime. This often leads to frightened pets running away and getting separated from their owners. Anything can happen: from ending up in shelters miles away to strangers finding them and not knowing where to return lost furkids.

One way to ensure your pets’ safety is to have them microchipped. It was found that most shelters have trouble returning dogs and cats to their owners because of inadequate contact details. Collars with identification tags can easily get lost, but a microchip can assure you that you’ll be able to find your pet easily. Make sure that your microchip information is up to date.

The Importance of Pet Disaster Preparedness

The images of abandoned animals being rescued are forever etched in our minds. Preparing for the inevitable will make sure that everyone is safe. Some fur parents actually stayed behind to keep their pets company, putting themselves and their furkids at risk. If you’re like us who love our pets to the core, you’d probably forego safety to stay with your beloved pets.

Another reason why we should be prepared for such calamities is the impact on our health. Two of the most common diseases that can be passed from pets to humans are Leptospirosis and Giardia. The latter is an intestinal infection caused by parasites thriving in dirty water and areas with poor sanitation, while the former is a deadly bacterial disease that can be passed on to humans through wounds or contaminated water.

Because of anxiety and stress after such calamities, pets tend to get defensive and aggressive. Some good samaritans will try to get close to your lost pet to see if they have identification tags. This can be dangerous as your frightened pooch might try to attack them. To ensure safety for them and for strangers, keep a close eye on your pets as they might run away when fences and gates are destroyed. Having a crate or carrier at hand will help in securing your furkids.

Take the necessary steps mentioned above to keep everyone in your family safe. Pawstruck cares about the safety of your pets during these natural disasters. We hope we were able to inspire you to be prepared for any natural crisis that may occur.

Want to help ongoing animal rescue efforts? Take a moment to check out The Humane Society of the United States website for more information.