August has arrived. We are still in the heat of summer when storms and wildfires explode in an instant. Floods, fires, tornadoes – all can spell disaster for people and pets. During Hurricane Katrina many pet owners stayed behind because Red Cross shelters don’t allow animals, and when people stayed, both humans and animals died. Although some organizations have since helped communities more actively prepare for handling pets during a natural disaster (see the American Kennel Club Reunite Mobile Trailer Disaster Program at http://www.akcreunite.org/relief/), pet owners should also prepare by creating an Evac-Pack.
An Evac-Pack is like a go-bag for your pet, helping you as a pet owner be prepared to care for your pet during a natural disaster. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), here are things pet parents should include in their pet’s Evac-Pack:
The ASPCA has a mobile app that can be helpful, showing pet owners what to do in case of a natural disaster/emergency. The app also allows pet parents to store vital medical records and provides information on making life-saving decisions during natural disasters. This free app can help pet owners in several other ways such as:
Learn more about preparing for a natural disaster if you have pets, including special considerations for livestock, birds, and reptiles, at http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/disaster-preparedness. Other helpful websites include: http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/animal_rescue/tips/pet_disaster_preparedness_kit.html?credit=web_id354243830, http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/pet_first_aid_kit.html and http://www.redcross.org/images/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m3640126_PetSafety.pdf.
Remember that Red Cross shelters don’t allow pets (they do allow service animals); therefore, plan ahead where your pet will stay if you have to be away from your home for an extended period of time. Pet-friendly hotels, boarding and veterinary clinics, and sometimes local animal shelters and pet rescue organizations can be helpful.
Plan ahead before an emergency strikes with where to go and what to take – you and your pet will ride the wave of a natural disaster better for that preparation.
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.