Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Don’t forget your pets

Surviving an emergency such as a fire, flood, earthquake or terrorist attack depends on what you plan for your family today. Hopefully you have a family plan and a 72 hour emergency kit. Now, how about Fido?

Believe it or not, more people in the United States have pets, than have children. Many people consider their pets to be part of the family and wouldn’t dream of leaving them behind. I confess I fall into that category.

Whether you decide to stay put in an emergency or evacuate to a safer location, you need to make plans in advance for your pets. Assembling an animal emergency supply kit is one of the things you can do to prepare for the unexpected. Include your veterinarian in your planning as they may have good ideas and suggestions specific to your pet.

Your pet kit should contain basically the same items as your family kit. They will need enough food and water for three days, medicines and medical records (in a waterproof plastic bag) and a first aid kit. Injured animals may need antibiotic ointment, flea and tick prevention, and isopropyl alcohol. A pet first aid reference book would be handy too.

Your pet should wear a collar with its rabies tag and identification at all times. Your kit should include a backup leash and ID tag. You might also consider talking with your veterinarian about permanent identification such as micro-chipping.

Include pet litter and litter box if appropriate, puppy pads, paper towels, plastic trash bags and chlorine bleach to provide for your pet’s sanitation needs. Nine parts water to one part bleach is a good disinfectant or you can use 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water to purify it for drinking.

Don’t forget favorite toys, treats or bedding in you pet kit. Familiar items can help reduce stress, theirs and yours.

If you become separated from your pets, a photo of you together will help document ownership and help others to identify your pet when found.

Develop a pet care buddy system. Know who will evacuate the pet and where the pet will stay. Some shelters are now accepting pets with their owners or you can find pet friendly hotels outside your immediate area. There are boarding kennels and some veterinary hospitals will take pets during an emergency. Contact these places ahead of time.

Plan with neighbors, friends or relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so. Designate specific locations, one in your immediate neighborhood and another farther away, where you will meet in an emergency. You will need a crate or other pet carrier if it is practical for you to take your animals with you. The carrier should be large enough for your pet to stand, turn around and lie down.

As in all planning, be prepared to adapt this information to your personal circumstances and make every effort t to follow instructions from authorities on the scene. With these simple preparations, you can be ready for the unexpected. Take time now to get yourself and your pet ready.