Pets and Emergencies: What to Do in the Midst of a Crisis

Wed, 08/18/2021 - 23:40
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White and brown small dog in a carrier

If you’re ever in an emergency situation, the key is to remain as calm as possible. This will help you think clearly about the actions you must take and also alleviate any further anxiety from human energy causing your pet to react.

What to do next depends on the situation. If your pets are outdoors, it is best to bring them inside into an enclosed room so that, if necessary, you can easily crate them for evacuation. Keep leashes and leads handy so that, when necessary, you can get them out of their crates for bathroom stops.

Should local officials indicate that a major threat is likely to impact your area, make sure you don’t wait too long to evacuate, and by all means avoid waiting until the last minute. This will ensure that you will have plenty of time to find and secure your pets. Be aware that your pets’ behavior during and after an emergency evacuation may be different from the normal daily routine you know and expect.

Pets may become highly stressed as the danger nears, so be extra cautious when handling them because they may be scared, try to escape or bite. During evacuation, it is also important to keep an eye out for hazards such as chemicals on the ground or in floodwater, and debris such as broken glass, sharp metal, hot surfaces or even downed, exposed electrical wires.

If your home is under immediate threat, and you must evacuate but cannot find your pet, leave an escape route through an open window or door so your pet won’t be trapped. When there is a fire or flood, pets have a higher chance of survival if they have a way out of an enclosed space.

For those pets becoming displaced, call your local emergency information number such as 2-1-1 or 5-1-1 to identify the closest pet friendly disaster shelter or emergency pet shelter where you can take your pet for temporary care until you can recover from a disaster. Organizations such as the Red Cross or other local animal welfare groups will often provide support to displaced residents of a disaster and offer temporary foster homes for displaced pets. Sometimes pets can be temporarily held in an emergency pet shelter for a determined period of time.

It's best to have a plan for your pet after five days because most shelters are set up for temporary support. A neighbor, friend or family member are possibilities for additional temporary placement. You should also contact local rescue groups who may be able to offer assistance based on your situation. To learn more about preparing a plan, click here.

Remember, surrendering your animal should be your last option. Do some research. There may be safety net programs in your area to help ensure that your pet is safe until you can get back on your feet and the two of you can safely reunite.

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.