This week Mother Nature did her very best to let us East-Coasters know who’s really in charge. An historic 5.8 earthquake—in the middle of Virginia, of all places—followed up with the approaching Level 3 Hurricane Irene, has made for an impressive one-two punch. And, while I realize I’ve blogged previously about natural disaster preparedness, it’s such a vital part of living with companion animals that I chose to reiterate its importance again this week as we all hit the stores for supplies. So be sure to add the following to your lists of batteries, flashlights, bottled water and dry goods:
Keep vaccination, microchip records and an up-to-date list of hotel and motels in your targeted evacuation area that allow pets with the “people papers” you would grab on your way out the door. Many hotels, motels and temporary shelters require these if you need them to accommodate Fluffy during evacuations.
Carriers and leashes:
Have them both accessible and always bring them when you evacuate. Even if it’s not Fido’s favorite place to be, most evacuation sites that allow animals will require that animals be in carriers.
Food and water:
Keep a travel pack of food and water that you can grab on your way out the door. If supplies get low at local stores before and during a disaster, you won’t be stuck with a hungry kitty.
Your animal should have a collar and ID tag on at all times anyway, but this is particularly important during evacuation situations. Too, be sure that the tag contains a cell phone number, if you have one, so that you can be reached while away from your home should you and your companions be separated for any reason.
Don’t ever leave your animals behind:
Don’t ever leave your animals behind. If you are without transportation and would, therefore, have to rely on others to help you evacuate, including city owned transportation systems, be sure to call before a disaster occurs to inquire about their “people-with-pets” evacuation regulations. Be sure to get their policy in writing, and keep it with your other important papers.
Don’t ever leave your animal once you have evacuated:
Sadly, “dog-nappers” and “bunchers” (slime balls who steal animals to sell to testing facilities) don’t take time off during disasters, so don’t leave your animal even for a minute.
Designate a particular day each year—ours is the first day of summer—as the day to update all of the above information and to check for the required supplies you need to ensure a safe evacuation for your animals.
It is estimated that nearly 12,000 animals died in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, 2000-3000 of those in the New Orleans area alone. Having a well-organized disaster plan that includes your companion animals can prevent your companion from becoming one of these statistics. Too, being prepared will make a potentially frightening situation run more smoothly for you and your family members, even those with four legs.