When Disaster Strikes…….Have You and Your Pets Prepared

It was heart wrenching to hear of the losses during the hurricane that devastated the Carolinas. Many people lost their homes and, horrifically, some lost their lives. Although the loss of property is not always preventable, most can be is replaced. Sadly many of the people who died, did so because they were unwilling to evacuate and leave their homes. In several instances it was reported that residents feared being separated from their pets if they needed to seek out public shelters. Many animals, pets and livestock, perished during the storm. Regardless of where we live, it seems that extremes of weather as well as man made disasters (recent gas explosions in the Boston area) have become part of life. Bigger storms, stronger winds, hotter summers and heavier snows all contribute to make life a bit more unpredictable and unsafe. Our pets are extremely important but so are our own lives. If we don’t take care of ourselves, who is going to take care of our four legged companions?

Although some catastrophes are totally unpredictable, with most weather related events we have some advance warning. Keeping that in mind, there are ways to prepare and have an “in place” plan for ourselves and our pets should we need to seek shelter. If roads are impassable, fuel in short supply, or we are asked to stay off of the streets, we may not be able to purchase supplies any time we wish. Similar to families who, when expecting the birth of a child, have a “Go Bag” packed and prepared for the rush to the hospital, we should have a “Pet Go Bag” for our pets in the event we need to quickly vacate in the face of a threat. Although every pet family situation has its particularities, the list below should help to give you some guidance for what to put together. Here are our suggestions:

1. One week supply of pet food (two weeks if your pet is on a prescription diet)
2. Three day water supply (don’t forget about the other family members)
3. A one week supply of litter and a litter box and bags to dispose of waste
4. Two week supply of any medications your pet is taking or likely to have to take
5. A copy of your pet’s medical record or a medical summary with current diagnoses. Vaccination certificates are essential.
6. An extra collar, harness or leash. These are the things that get misplaced when the times get hectic
7. A photo of your pet or pets. One in which you are in the photo is best in the event you get separated.
8. Towels, bedding, and, if there is room, a crate for your pet should you have to stay in a shelter
9. Basic first aid supplies
10. A couple of your pet’s favorite toys (or maybe even a special new one) to help your pet to adjust in a new and unfamiliar surroundings.
11. A plan of when and where you will go

Although the likelihood of ever needing all of these supplies is minimal, one can never be over prepared. In light of the recent events both in the southern US as well as in the Boston area, the argument to be proactive and ready has never been stronger.