Veterinarian says disaster preparedness includes having a plan to take care of your pets
Friday, June 9, 2017
A Kansas State University veterinarian recommends pet owners have a disaster plan, checklist and pet evacuation kit on hand in case an evacuation is necessary because of an emergency.
MANHATTAN — If disaster strikes, does your emergency preparedness plan include what to do with your pets? A Kansas State University veterinarian says it should.
"You should never leave your pet at home if you need to evacuate," said Susan Nelson, clinical professor at the university's Veterinary Health Center, a part of the College of Veterinary Medicine. "Whether you have traditional pets such as cats and dogs, or exotic pets, pocket pets, horses and livestock, creating a disaster plan for animals in your care entails similar steps taken to make your family plan."
These steps start with knowing what disasters could happen in your area.
"The type of disaster will dictate if you can shelter at home or if you will need to leave your home and find shelter elsewhere," Nelson said. In Kansas, disasters can include, but are not limited to, blizzards, ice storms, fires, floods, nuclear disaster, tornadoes, earthquakes and chemical spills.
If you do need to leave your home, Nelson said be aware that not all public shelters or hotels — or even relatives or friends — will allow pets, including cats and dogs. She suggests having several lodging alternatives.
Next, Nelson said create your disaster plan, develop a checklist and make your pet evacuation kit. Considerations should include how you will actually transport pets — on a leash, in a carrier, etc. — and where you will go, as well as alternative routes to get there as some roads may be impassible or closed.
Nelson recommends the following be in your pet evacuation kit:
• Contact numbers for hotels and boarding facilities, relatives and your veterinarian in a waterproof bag.
• Food sources such as pop-top cans or small bags of dry food, which should be rotated every few months. Rotation should also be done for bottles of water used for drinking and any medications — a minimum of one week's worth should be in the kit.
• Copies of medical records should be placed in waterproof bags as well as pictures of you with your pet to provide proof of ownership should you become separated.
• Some type of identification — collar and tags, with or without a microchip. Remember to keep this information up to date.
Additional items include cleanup supplies, collapsible bowls, spoon, leash, litter and litter box, and small familiar items, such as toys or a blanket, which may help to reduce the stress on your pet.
"Consider using a buddy system with neighbors in case you are not home to evacuate your pet, and place a rescue sticker on your front window, which indicates how many pets you have inside in case an in-home rescue is necessary," Nelson said.
Finally, practice your plan. Nelson recommends teaching both cats and dogs to come when called. Leave a carrier sitting out so the sight of it does not scare off a pet, especially cats. You may even want to feed pets in their carrier to teach them it is a safe place. Know where your emergency kit is for quick access and see how long it takes to get everyone together and out of the house, she said.
"Nobody wants to encounter a disaster, but being prepared will help mitigate some of the stress that can be experienced by you and your pets," Nelson said.
More information on pet emergency preparedness is available at the following websites: