It’s important to include your pets or livestock in any emergency plans you make for your household. They are totally dependent on you for their safety and well-being. June is Pet Preparedness Month and the American Red Cross has steps you can follow to make an emergency plan for your animals.
CREATE A PET EMERGENCY PLAN
- Know a safe place to take your pets. Know which hotels and motels along your evacuation route will accept pets in an emergency. Call ahead for reservations if you know you may need to evacuate. Ask if no-pet policies could be waived in an emergency.
- Most American Red Cross shelters cannot accept pets because of health and safety concerns and other considerations. Service animals that assist people with disabilities are allowed in Red Cross shelters.
- Know which friends, relatives, boarding facilities, animal shelters or veterinarians can care for your animals in an emergency. Prepare a list with phone numbers.
- Although your animals may be more comfortable together, be prepared to house your pets separately.
- Include your pets in evacuation drills so that they become used to entering and traveling in their carriers calmly.
- Make sure that your pet’s vaccinations are current and that all dogs and cats are wearing collars with securely fastened, up-to-date identification. Many pet shelters require proof of current vaccinations to reduce the spread of disease.
- Consider having your pet “microchipped” by your veterinarian.
PET EMERGENCY KIT Place the following items in a sturdy, easy-to-carry container:
- Sturdy leashes, harnesses and/or carriers to transport pets safely and ensure that they can’t escape.
- Food, drinking water, bowls, cat litter/pan and a manual can opener if your pet eats canned food.
- Medications and copies of medical records stored in a waterproof container.
- A first aid kit.
- Current photos of you with your pet(s) in case they get lost. Since many pets look alike, this will help to eliminate mistaken identity and confusion.
- Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to foster or board your pets.
- Pet beds and toys, if easily transportable.
Pet owners can download the Red Cross Pet First Aid app for more information on how to include pets in emergency preparedness plans. The app also features step-by-step instructions for first aid emergencies, a pet profile for storing tag ID, photo and medical information, early warning signs for when to contact a veterinarian and an animal hospital locator. Users can find it in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross, texting GETPET to 90999 for a link to download the app or going to redcross.org/apps.
You can also take the Red Cross Cat and Dog First Aid online course so you’ll know what to do in an emergency until veterinary care is available. People can access the course on their desktop or tablet at redcross.org/catdogfirstaid and go through the content at their own pace.
HAVE AN EMERGENCY PLAN FOR YOUR LIVESTOCK
For large animals and livestock, make sure your plan includes a map of your farm indicating buildings and structures, access routes, blocked passages and barriers, locations of livestock and shelters, locations of hazardous substances (such as pesticides, fuel, etc.), and electrical shut-off locations.
Review your emergency plan with your employees and make sure they are aware of where all supplies and animals are always located. Always have identifying information for your animals or livestock and that animals have identification on them.
Keep a stockpile of supplies on hand such as:
- Sandbags and plastic sheeting
- Wire and ropes to secure objects
- Lumber and plywood to protect windows
- Extra food and water for livestock
- Extra fuel for tractors and vehicles
- Hand tools
- Fire extinguishers
- A gas-powered generator
Here are more steps you should take:
- If possible, plan to evacuate with your animals. Plan out routes and find vehicles and trailers to transport your animals and livestock.
- Don’t forget to ensure that your destination has food, water, handling equipment and veterinary care.
- Make sure to build a go-kit for your farm much as you would for your home. Include veterinarian information, insurance agent information and documentation of coverage, other important documentation, food, water, medication.
- If you must shelter your animals in place, you may want to remove them from pastures and shelter them in a barn or other large structure if possible, providing them with feed and water. Make sure the shelter is free of neighboring debris, trees which can uproot easily, overhead powerlines, etc.
- It may be best to let your livestock remain in pastures, as confinement in a shelter can take away the abilities of animals to protect themselves.
- For potential flooding, make sure to relocate your animals to higher ground.