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Plan ahead to help your pet survive an emergency

November 10, 2021

Have you prepared your pet to weather a natural disaster?

In Ontario, each of us is responsible for our own safety and survival during the first 72 hours of an emergency and that responsibility includes your pet. That’s why it’s important to create a 72 hour pet emergency survival kit and plan.

Don’t forget to include your pet in your family’s evacuation plan so you know where you can go in an emergency. Identify a family member responsible for the pet. Every minute counts when a natural disaster strikes. Remember, there won’t be time to work out the details then!

Know shelters

If possible, identify pet-friendly evacuation shelters in advance so you can stay together. If there aren’t any shelters, other options might include:

  • Your veterinarian’s office
  • Local animal shelters
  • Pet-friendly hotels
  • Boarding facilities
  • A trusted relative’s or friend’s house

The important thing is to have several options outlined in your pet evacuation plan.

Additionally, “Keeping your [pet’s] medical records on hand is vital, since some pet-friendly emergency relief centres require proof of vaccinations for your pet to stay there,” says Purina Chief Veterinary Officer, Kurt Venator.

If evacuating with your pets just isn’t possible, use waterproof “Pets Inside” stickers – often available from your veterinary - on your home’s front and back doors to alert rescuers to look for them.

You should also have a plan if something happens while you’re away. Prepare for this by asking a trusted neighbour, relative or friend who is willing to check in on your pet. Add this person to your emergency contact list as someone who’s authorized to approve emergency medical care in your absence.

Build a kit

The Ontario SPCA and Humane Society suggests a pet owner’s emergency kit should include:

  • 72-hour food supply, including bowls and a can opener
  • 72-hour water supply
  • Blankets/towels
  • Toys
  • Leash, muzzle, harness
  • Litter pan, litter, plastic bags, and scooper
  • Pet carrier to allow for easy transport
  • Medical records, veterinarian’s name and contact number
  • Medications and a pet first aid kit
  • Current photo of your pet along with their name, address, and brief description
  • Information on your pet’s feeding schedule, temperament/behaviour, medical concerns
  • ID tags and microchip number
  • Flashlight
  • List of boarding facilities, hotels that can accommodate pets

Check the kit twice a year and update it as necessary. Ensure that there is always fresh water and food, medication and restock any items that may have been used or have expired.

Your veterinary may have other valuable suggestions as well as your pet insurer. One such insurer is Pets Plus Us. Their Blue Ribbon Benefits offer 24/7 complimentary access to PetHelpFone, which can provide veterinary advice outside normal business hours.

Your ability to care for your pet during a time of emergency will depend on how well you have prepared for it. Consider these sobering disaster statistics from south of the border:

The Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates that in 2005 as many as 104,000 pets were left behind to weather Hurricane Katrina, at least 88,700 went unaccounted for and likely 50,000 to 70,000 across the Gulf Coast died. In the years since, legislation has been passed in the U.S. to require governments on all levels to include companion animals in their evacuation plans. The region was just slammed again by Hurricane Ida.

Bottom line? Pets are part of the family. Include them in your emergency plan!

RELATED READING: The Ultimate Pet Emergency Survival Kit