MADISON, Wis. -- Disasters, such as hurricanes, tornadoes and floods don’t just affect people – they also affect pets and other animals. Planning ahead in the event of a natural disaster can protect the safety and well being of you and your pet.
Humans who refuse evacuation or re-enter evacuated areas to rescue pets that were left behind during a disaster put themselves and their pet in great danger, as well as first responders who may be needed to rescue those people. Conversely, pets that are left behind in an evacuation are put at increased risk for straying, disease and death. Residents should take steps to know their risk, learn the evacuation procedures for their area and create a plan for how their family (and pets!) would react to a natural disaster.
The consequences of not planning for animals:
- After Hurricane Floyd and related, widespread flooding, North Carolina State University rescued and kenneled 450 small animals (mostly dogs) and more than 700 were kenneled through East Carolina University. Of those rescued animals, North Carolina State reported an abandonment rate of nearly 80%.
- In the same disaster, approximately 2.9 million pets and livestock were killed.
Prevention tips: Protecting the life of your pet with planning
Create a disaster kit
Pack extra pet care and transportation items in an easy to grab kit, including:
- Extra collars, tags and leashes for all pets and extra pet food with a manual can opener if needed
- A supply of stored drinking water
- Toys or blankets the pet will find familiar
- Paper towels, plastic bags and disinfectant for waste clean-up
- Copies of your pet’s medical and vaccination records
- Extra supplies of any medications your pet is currently taking
If you need to evacuate
- Take your pets with you whenever possible (only service animals are allowed in Red Cross shelters)
- Identify “pet friendly” hotels (www.petswelcome.com).
- Board with friends/relatives in a safe area.
- Check with your local animal shelter.
- Leave in plenty of time – you may not be able to take your pet at the last minute.
- Identify your pets, include your address, phone number and the phone number of a friend outside of the disaster range. Have photos for identification purposes.
- To transport your animals safely:
- Condition your animals to being in a cage/carrying case/pen/trailer.
- Keep animals on a strong leash/harness.
- Take three to five days’ worth of supplies – food, water, high water-content fruits/vegetables, medication, cat litter, “comfort toys.”
- Birds/lizards – blanket to keep cage warm/plant mister to hydrate feathers.
- Snakes – pillowcase to transport/heating pad for warmth/water bowl to soak.
- Pocket pets (hamsters/gerbils) – cage/bedding material/water bottles.
If you must leave your pets behind
- Leave them untied in an interior room with adequate air and no windows – such as a bathroom.
- Purchase a self-feeder in advance and leave enough food and water for at least three days. Leave faucet dripping with drain open.