We all want to protect the ones we love.
. So in the face of Hurricane Sandy disaster preparedness for pets is on a lot of people's minds. We were very lucky in the storm, our home sustained no damage and we were only without power for a week. However, the experience has made me more aware of the importance of preparing to protect my furry babies in the event of a disaster.
Rule number one of disaster preparedness: If you must evacuate, never ever leave your pets behind. This tip is posted on FEMA's website. Sometimes people assume they will only have to leave their homes for a few hours or a day and they leave their pets, most likely cats, in their home. However, disasters are by their nature unpredictable and you never know how long you may have to wait before getting back. This was a lesson learned by the inhabitants of the apartment buildings near 57 street in Manhattan where a crane came lose in the hurricane and threatened to fall on pedestrians below. Residents where evacuated and thinking the problem would be fixed quickly a few left their pets behind, unfortunately the crane problem was not easy to fix and it kept residents out of their homes for a week.
Luckily, after Hurricane Katrina forced government officials to see how important pets are to evacuating families The Pet Evacuation and Transport Act was passed in 2006 and it requires that state and local emergency plans address the needs of pet owners. Thanks to this act most localities now offer animal friendly shelters or make provisions to house family pets in animal shelters during emergencies. In addition many communities provide food for pets effected by disasters, In Jersey City food for pets affected by Sandy was provided at the local animal shelter.
If you have multiple animals, as I do, it might be most practical to have a list of local dog boarding facilities, pet friendly hotels, and friends who can provide for a few of your animals in the event of an evacuation as it might not be possible to handle multiple animals in an evacuation shelter. Of course if you can stay in your home then that is most likely the best thing for your pets, but you need to make sure it is a safe and feasible option and if it is not leave, and leave early.
The needs of dogs and cats in an emergency situation are different and its important to have plans for both species.
- Enough kibble and canned food for at least a week
- ID tags
- Medical Records
- Leash and collar and back up collar
- Well labeled Collapsible Crate
- Water (this is especially important if you stay home with your pet, you need about 1 gallon of water per day per dog). I had about 40 gallons of water which would have lasted about 4 days for all of us (dogs, cats, and people) and that would not have been enough as we had no power for a week. I am very thankful we did not have our water turned off.
- Favorite toy or chew.
- Enough dry food and canned food for at least a week
- ID tags or information descriptions (my cats remove all break away collars they wear so ID tags don't really work)
- Well labeled Carriers
- Blanket (the cat may be calmer if the carrier is covered)
- Aluminum tray and litter
You can't prepare for everything in life but we you can do your best to take care of yourself and your pet at a time when you will need each other.