Having an emergency evacuation plan for your pets protects them during disasters
In anticipation of Hurricane Joaquin, the ASPCA® (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) urges pet owners to develop emergency evacuation plans to keep their families and pets safe before the storm makes landfall along the East Coast.
“The best thing you can do for you and your pet is to plan ahead before the storm makes landfall,” said Dr. Dick Green, senior director of Disaster Response for the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response team. “Don’t wait until the last minute, act now and closely monitor the hurricane’s path. There are actions you can take, including arranging a safe haven for your pets and making sure your pets have up-to-date identification. And please take your pets with you if you need to evacuate.”
According to the ASPCA’s national study on disaster preparedness, more than one-third (35 percent) of dog and cat owners don’t have a disaster preparedness plan in place. Further, only about a quarter of dog owners (28 percent) and cat owners (24 percent) say their animals are micro-chipped. The ASPCA urges pet owners to develop emergency plans that accounts for the safety of their animals and to stay informed about potential evacuations in their area.
The following tips will help pet owners prepare for a disaster:
- Always bring pets indoors at the first sign or warning of a storm or disaster. Pets can become disoriented and wander away from home during a crisis. Nearly one-in-five lost pets goes missing after being scared by the sound of fireworks, thunderstorms or other loud noises, according to ASPCA survey findings.
- Make sure all pets wear collars and tags with up-to-date identification. The ASPCA recommends microchipping your pet as a more permanent form of identification.
- Download ASPCA’s disaster preparedness mobile app. The ASPCA created a free mobile app that informs pet owners what to do before, during, and after a disaster, even without Internet connectivity. The app also gives personalized instructions on how to search for and recover a lost animal in a variety of circumstances. You can also store your pets’ medical records, microchip number, veterinarian contact info, and other information you may need easy access to after you evacuate. Visit www.ASPCAapp.org to download on iTunes or Google Play.
- Arrange a safe haven for your pets in the event of evacuation. Ask friends and relatives outside your immediate area if they would be willing to take in your pet, identify pet-friendly hotels, or contact your local animal shelter if they provide emergency shelter or foster care for pets.
- Keep a pet emergency kit and supplies handy with items such as medical records, water, pet food and medications, and pet first aid supplies.
- Obtain a rescue alert sticker, which will let rescuers know that pets are inside your home. Make sure it is visible and that it includes: 1) the types and number of pets in your household; 2) the name of your veterinarian; and 3) your veterinarian's phone number.
The ASPCA Field Investigations and Response team frequently responds to natural disasters, including recent wildfires in Lake County, Calif., Hurricanes Sandy and Irene in 2012, the Joplin, Mo. tornado in 2011, and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, in addition to being called upon by state and municipal governments and other animal welfare partners to lend expertise during large-scale animal rescue operations.
For more information on disaster preparedness and safety tips from the ASPCA, please visit www.aspca.org/pet-care/disaster-preparedness/.