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When Disaster Strikes – How To Make Sure You and Your Pet Will Be Safe!

Disasters strike all over the United States – earthquakes, floods, landslides, hurricanes, tornados, and severe winter storms.

Getting a pet organized in case of a disaster means planning ahead to increase the chances of the survival of both you and your pets,

Steps to take Right Now
Hundreds of pets get lost every year when disasters strike. During the confusion animals can travel great distances from home. They may run away trying to escape the chaos, or may be rescued by a Good Samaritan and taken to another safer location far far away. Statistics show many rescued pets are never returned to their owners, why? because of lack of identification.

Check your pet’s ID tag.
Is it still legible and current? Is there enough information to find you – even if your phone has been disconnected? Does it have an address?

Get Him Microchipped
One of the greatest innovations today is that of micro-chipping. There is an army of shelters, vets, and rescue organizations who will return your pet from just about anywhere in the United States, if it has a chip. These life saving chips are placed just under the pet’s skin. A scanner will ID the chip and the chip number is indexed on a national database. It is up to you to make sure your information is regularly updated on the national database! To get your pet micro-chipped, visit your vet or local shelter – it is worth it!

Take a picture of your dog now and place it in a plastic bag with your “Pet Organizer”.

Rescuing Your Animals During a Disaster
Who will help them? You may not be home when the disaster strikes or the order comes to evacuate.

The disaster could also be localized to just your own home – like a fire. If your animals are kept indoors or at home during the day, make sure that you have that information displayed on a small laminated sign near your front door. ”FIRE DEPARTMENT. Animals live here. One cat, two dogs, fish, birds.”

Pet leashes ideally would be on a hook right at the front door so your critters can quickly be secured. Dogs will submit to their own leashes and a stranger much quicker than to a rescue rope.

Set up a buddy system with your neighbor. This works great for vacation pet-sitting too. In an emergency they (or you) will pick up the pets and meet at a pre-arranged location. When you have been exchanging pet sitting favors, you will already know each other’s pets and have house keys. Your buddy will be familiar with your home and know where your animals are likely to be. Let them know where you keep your pet’s “Disaster Survival Box” and pet carriers.

Moving the Animals to a Safe Location
Evacuate pets early. Bring a safe carrier or crate for each pet.
Since pets are not allowed inside shelters for humans you may need to board them or take them to a friend. Boarding facilities will need proof of immunizations and distemper shots – find those in your pet’s “Disaster Survival Box”.

What do you put in your pet’s Disaster Survival Box?
For each pet you need:

>> Pet Organizer Book/Folder with your pet’s name, your address and phone number. Get a current photo of your pet (laminated or in a plastic bag). Make copies of current distemper and rabies shots, immunizations, and licenses. These are required by boarding facilities and you may need to board your dogs during an emergency.
>> Set yourself up with Pet Insurance Consider if you can afford an emergency room vet bill.Update and replenish your business cards. You may need to exchange information with a lot of people when you are looking for your pet. You can write your pet’s description on the back.
>> Update your address book: Pet Emergency Numbers: List your veterinarian, your local shelter, and animal control. Alternate Housing Numbers: During the emergency you will need the names of boarding kennels, veterinary hospitals with kennels, and pet friendly hotels. >>Getting your pet into a secured environment quickly is the key, whether it is home or someplace like home. The longer they are out, the greater the chance that may get lost or injured.
>>Refresh your food & water supplies. Cans of dog/cat food. Food bowls. Water. Treats.
Repack your First Aid Kit. (General Medicines, Plasters, bandages, disinfectant, wet### toweletts). You can learn a little Pet First Aid with this amazing DVD: Pet Emergency First Aid: Dogs (DVD) The pet’s life you save may be your own.
>>Check your Equipment. A Muzzle. Pets get anxious around strangers and the last thing you need is for someone or even another dog to get bit. Consider a lightweight chain and “D” ring clips, to facilitate leashing.
>>Comfort. A small blanket and a large black plastic bag. The bags could become ground cover or a raincoat for your dog. A brush. A dried chew bone will keep your pet distracted during a long confinement.
>>Paper towels. Baggies. Anything else.

Keep your Pets Calm.
Pets can become fearful and agitated. During the evacuation, communicate with your pets and re-assure them that you will all be going back home.

Finding Your Lost Pet
If you lose your pet during the disaster, (or if you find one) things may be up to you entirely.Take the photograph and make several copies. Post everywhere both near and far. Concentrate on areas where people congregate during the disaster. Contact veterinary hospitals, boarding kennels, animal control facilities and humane societies in you area. The Internet and Blogs are becoming a great rescue tool. If you can get to a computer do a Google word search for your city or area disaster, and post your information on the blog. Come to MuttShack to report a found or lost pet and you will find an outpouring of help from animal bloggers.

Going Home – New Dangers
When you return home, before you let your pets loose, be aware of any possible new dangers in your environment. Chemical or toxic spills, loose power lines, shifted ground areas etc. Look out for displaced creatures – snakes, coyotes, raccoons, skunks and other wild animals that may now be in your area. Don’t assume that your pets will avoid any such danger. Make sure that the danger is eliminated.