Floods, Hurricanes, Tornadoes… Are you prepared if disaster strikes?
September is “National Disaster Preparedness Month,” no surprise as this is about the time the Gulf of Mexico starts turning it’s wheels and sending hurricanes soaring our way. While we can’t prevent the floods and storms from coming, we can be prepared for the obstacles we may face when natural disasters arise. Hopefully living in Louisiana you’ve prepared yourself and your loved ones for when disasters strike, but did you remember to prepare your pet?
What would you did with your pet if you had to evacuate? Do you have the supplies your animal needs to survive at least 5 days away from home? Do you know what to do if your pet gets injured in a natural disaster? These are just few of the many questions you need to ask yourself in order to be prepared for your pet and hopefully these tips can help!
1. Have an evacuation plan!
Know where you’re going should you have to evacuate. While it’s tough making the decision to leave your home, sometimes we have no choice in the matter. Never underestimate the power of a natural disaster. Keep a list handy of the places available for you to stay. If this is with a friend or family member then make sure this is a safe environment for your pet. For example, if your friend or family member has pets, are they friendly with other animals? Also, if your pet is anxious or acts out around unfamiliar people or foreign situations then it’s probably a good idea not to evacuate to a household with children or those uncomfortable with animals. If you are evacuating to a hotel or camp ground, is it pet friendly? Know the environment you will be taking your animal to and make sure he/she will be comfortable.
2. Have pet supplies ready and easily accessible!
Whether you are evacuating or not, it’s best that you have at least 5 days of supplies ready for your pet. I suggest that you get either a plastic container or a bag and label it with your pet’s name and your information. Put in it all the items your animal might possibly need. This probably includes: food, a gallon of water, bowls, treats, leash, collar, litter box, litter, pee-pee pads, doggy waste bags, towel, blanket, toys, heartworm/flea medication, ect. Most importantly, don’t forget your pet’s medication if they are on any!!! I also recommend keeping in it an up-to-date copy of your pet’s medical history and a photo of your pet. Store the container or bag in an easily accessible location in case you need to evacuate in a hurry.
3. Invest in a pet carrier!
You never know the situation you might end up in. Sadly, some of the recent flood victims experienced evacuating their neighborhoods via boat, many with animals. This is a very stressful experience for humans, much more so for animals who can not comprehend what is occurring. They are nervous and scared! Having a space for them where they are comfortable and that they know is their own is essential. It is also the key to preventing them from escaping because animals often run off and hide when they are scared. I suggest lining the carrier with pee-pee pads (easy clean up) and towels. If the pet is too large for a carrier then make sure they have a leash and collar that is secure. Hint: a secure collar isn’t too tight or too lose; you should be able to fit two fingers in between the collar and the animal’s skin! Having a carrier for your pet when your family is displaced also ensures it will have a place to call its own, making them comfortable in an unfamiliar place.
4. Microchip your pet!!!
Like I said before, animals like to run and hide when they are scared. Sometimes pet owners are forced to leave them behind because they can’t find them or aren’t prepared to evacuate with them. If this is the case, microchipping your pet increases the chances of being reunited with them significantly. A microchip is a small identification marker that is inserted under the skin on the animal’s back. A microchip scanner can then detect the chip which has a registered number that identifies your pet. The pet owner registers the chip in a large database annually. The first thing we do at a vet’s office when someone brings in a lost pet is scan them for a microchip. If the pet has a microchip then reuniting it with it’s owner is very easy; all we have to do is look up the microchip number in the nation wide database and find the owner’s contact information. However, if the animal doesn’t have a microchip then locating his/her owner is usually rather difficult. The cost of microchipping your pet and registering it annually is a small price to pay if it can prevent you from being separated from them forever.
5. Know where the nearest emergency veterinarian is!
It is very common for us to see emergency pet cases during or post storms. With that being said, it is important to know where the nearest emergency veterinarian is located. If your pet is injured you want to be prepared to bring them to a veterinarian as fast as possible. Make sure that the vet you have in mind offers emergency services. In your evacuation plan note if the area you are evacuating to has a relatively close veterinary practice. Have the vet’s office contact information available. It is also a good idea to know if the vet’s office offers boarding facilities if needed.
I sincerely hope and pray that we can catch a break from natural disasters occurring in our area any time soon. Certainly Louisiana has had to endure plenty enough distress in recent times. Nevertheless, it is essential to be prepared just in case. After all being prepared relieves an enormous amount of stress if/when a natural disaster occurs! I hope that these tips have helped you, but should you have any questions concerning natural disaster preparedness for your pet, Animal Care Center and Pet Care Center are happy to help. For further assistance, call us at (985) 542-6300 or (985) 370-7387.