With tornadoes in the South, wildfires in Texas and flooding in the Midwest, many folks are being forced from their homes. Such emergencies can require anything from a brief absence to a permanent evacuation. It’s disorienting enough for people, but pets also lose their bearings when their home life is disrupted. So it’s good to be prepared.
Even if you believe you're evacuating for only one day, plan for the worst-case scenario. In unpredictable circumstances, pets could be trapped, or escape and risk exposure to life-threatening hazards, or even starve. If it's not safe for humans, it's not safe for animals.
Before anything happens, find a place where you can stay with Fido or Fluffy. Check with hotels to see which allow animals and ask family and friends if they're willing to take in you and your pets. Contact your local emergency-response agencies and find out which shelters allow animals and what requirements they have, such as medical records. Boarding and kennel facilities, veterinary offices, and animal shelters may also provide emergency housing.
Because an emergency may strike when you’re not a home, make a plan with a trusted neighbor or friend who can evacuate your pets. Make sure they know where to find your pet and any supplies it may need.
Like their owners, pets should have supplies at the ready. The Humane Society and the ASPCA both have helpful pet preparedness information on their websites. Below is a list of what the ASPCA recommends for a pet’s evac-pack. Remember, food and medications need to be rotated out of your emergency kit every two months—otherwise they may spoil or become useless.
- A traveling bag, crate or sturdy carrier, ideally one for each pet
- 3-7 days' worth of canned (pop-top) or dry food
- Bottled water, at least 7 days' worth for each person and pet
- Pet feeding dishes
- Extra harness and leash (Note: harnesses are recommended for safety and security)
- Photocopies of medical records and a waterproof container with a two-week supply of any medicine your pet requires
- Disposable litter trays (aluminum roasting pans are perfect)
- Litter and paper toweling
- Liquid dish soap and disinfectant
- Disposable garbage bags for clean-up
- Blanket (for scooping up a fearful pet)
- Recent photos of your pets (in case you are separated and need to make "Lost" posters)
- Your pet’s favorite toy
—Mary H.J. Farrell