Pet prep: 8 ways to ensure your furry friend's safety during an emergency

It’s important to have a plan in place to prevent being separated from your furry friend in the event of an emergency. There’s no better time than now to devise a disaster plan.

Practicing an evacuation with your pet can help reduce the anxiety of getting everyone out safely. | Photo credit: Adobe Stock

We’ve all heard the heart-wrenching tales of pets lost during emergency situations. In the event of extreme weather or a disaster, would you know what to do to protect your pet? It’s important to have a plan in place to prevent being separated from your furry friend. There’s no better time than now to devise a disaster plan.

Here are a few tips derived from the Centers for Disease Control to help ensure your four-legged friend(s)’ safety in the event of an emergency weather event or evacuation:

Before an emergency

  1. Make sure your pet(s) have securely fastened ID tags with up-to-date contact information. If your pet has a microchip, make sure the chip is registered with the manufacturer and that your contact information on file is up-to-date.
  2. Keep a leash and/or carrier near the exit of your home.
  3. Have the proper equipment for a safe and efficient exit (carriers, harnesses, etc.), and make sure your pets feel comfortable with this set-up before an emergency occurs. Practicing an evacuation with your pet can help reduce the anxiety of getting everyone out safely. However, if your pet is prone to anxiety, have your vet educate you on the myriad of stress relieving products on the market, like anxiety vests, natural sprays, and medications.
  4. Ensure that you have enough food, water, and medication (if necessary) to last at least a week. Tap water may contain bacteria and chemicals following a storm, so it’s a good idea to have some bottled water on hand for your furry friend. (Side tip: Never allow pets to play in or drink from stagnant water sources, especially after flooding.)    
  5. Know where your pet might hide when stressed or frightened.
  6. Form a friendship with a neighbor whom you trust to get your animal to safety in case of an emergency.   
  7. Research places where your animals can stay with you in the event of an evacuation. Due to public health concerns, many evacuation centers (including the Red Cross) may not let you bring your pet with you unless they are a service animal. If you find a center that allows furry friends, you may be asked to provide vaccination records, so have those handy. Alternatives include staying in a pet-friendly hotel or sending them to a vet clinic or kennel outside of the affected area.
  8. Remember to always handle your furry friends cautiously and gently during an emergency situation, storm event, or evacuation. Even docile pets may react unpredictably under stress.

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