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You need to evacuate . . . what about your pets??

Keeping the whole family together during disasters!

Dog surveying tornado damge
Dog looking for familiar surroundings after tornado

It’s not something that anyone wants to really think about, but are you prepared in case a natural disaster, housefire, or some other calamity would affect your family or community? In a recent press release, PetSmart Charities report that more than 75 percent of pet owners will refuse to evacuate their home if their pet must be left behind. Eighty percent of respondents said they would give up their spot at a shelter if pets could stay with them.

June is #PetPreparednessMonth and it’s a good time to start planning for the “what ifs” . . . what if a tornado tears through your state, what if flooding or wildfires forces you from your home, what if your neighborhood needs to evacuate after a train derailment?? Do you have a plan to evacuate WITH your pets?

Disaster experts at the American Red Cross do encourage pet lovers (as well as livestock owners) to have some sort of plan in place. Here are a few highlights:

First, the easiest thing to do . . . grab your phone, grab your pet and get a “selfie” with him or her!! It’s fun, it’s creating memories in your phone, AND it’s making sure that you have a CURRENT photo that could help prove ownership or help with creating “lost” flyers.

Pet microchip
HomeAgain microchip

Next, go to the online database for your pet’s microchip . . . is the information up-to-date? More than 50 percent of pets with microchips don’t have a current address or phone number for the owners! Is your pet not microchipped?? Well, now’s a GREAT time to get this done as well. Call your veterinarian!!

The next step is a little more complex, but it could be time-saving in the event of an emergency. Get a pet evacuation kit together. Whether you call it your “go bag”, your “bug out kit”, or just simply an evacuation kit, there are a few essentials that will be needed:

  • Several days worth of food (canned or dry) along with bottles of water

  • Bowls for feeding and water

  • Trash bags and paper towels

  • A supply of your pet’s daily medications and proof of vaccination status

  • Leashes, collars, crates, or other means of confining and controlling your pet in a strange environment.

Car in flooded parking lot
Flood waters can change the landscape

It’s important to point out here that you should have a plan of WHERE to go as well. Not all hotels are pet friendly, family members might be allergic to your pets, and disaster shelters may not allow animals, depending on the state and the type of emergency. Plan ahead by checking out or to find pet friendly hotels in your area.

Odds are that you will NEVER have to use this advice, but given that the majority of pet owners will refuse to evacuate without their pets, it’s probably good to be on the safe side!


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