As disasters occur, it is natural to get immersed in the news as you hear the stories, see the dreadful images and empathize with victims for the hardship they are enduring. Immersion in the news also creates emotion that makes you want to help in whatever way possible. For pet lovers who are sympathetic to the awful fate of pets who may be lost, killed, injured or surrendered to shelters during a crisis, it is especially difficult to imagine not being able to assist in some way: offering your time and service, or donating items or funds to an organization, cause or individual.
Unfortunately, disasters are not in short supply. If you are interested in getting involved to help in case of a disaster in your area, it’s important to first ensure that your own preparedness plan is in place and also share the importance of disaster preparedness planning with your friends and family so no one is ever caught off guard. (It’s like that instruction we receive from the airlines: Make sure your own seat belt is buckled before assisting others).
Next, you should take the time to research emergency or local animal welfare organizations that respond to emergencies so that you can sign up as a volunteer and gain any necessary training, experience and skills. You should also highly consider taking as many online animal behavior and care training courses as possible, so that you can gain more experience about what to expect from dogs and cats during emergencies.
Other training opportunities you should take advantage include a pet first-aid and CPR class so you can help animals who might not have access to vet care. And to further assist with potential injuries or illnesses, consider creating a first-aid kit for your pets and community pets.
To get more hands-on with animals prior to a disaster, your local shelter may be looking for volunteers and temporary fosters for when there is an influx of pets. Contact your local shelter and ask what you need to do to become a volunteer or potential emergency foster.
Lastly, during an emergency, you may be inclined to give items away to local shelters; however, your items may not be what they need, and it may cost the shelter time, energy and manpower to get those items sorted, cleaned and stored. Instead, consider donating money that can go to exactly what is needed on the ground. Some shelters post their wish lists of items needed online via Amazon or Chewy, where you can directly order items and have them shipped directly.
While most of us may feel helpless in the face of devastation, every kind action taken by an individual during an emergency adds up to making life better for homeless pets and the people who care for them.
Here is a basic emergency supply list for your pet. Click here for printable checklist.
A good first aid kit should include the following items. Click here for printable checklist.