Pet Disaster Preparedness & Recovery Techniques – What You Need To Know

At any given time, an estimated 43 million Americans, suffer from psychological distress, according to Regis College. Distress that can alter the way a person thinks, feel, and behave. But it’s not just human that can affected from this. Dogs too can experience their own physiological battles, especially after witnessing a natural disaster.

That’s because disasters come in many forms; and may require you and your furry friend to leave the comfort of your home for a couple days or force you out permanently. That said, each type of emergency requires different levels of preparation.


What Kind Of Pet Disaster Preparedness?

Ones that will help keep you and your loved ones safe and out of harm’s way. While preparing, however, there’s one thing you shouldn’t forget: your pet. 

Although there are challenges of managing animals during a disaster, ultimately, no pet should ever be left behind. That’s why it’s important to practice and have a plan ready to go.

Pet disaster preparedness doesn’t just refer to gathering lots of food and water for them. It involves taking the right measures to help keep them safe during an emergency. Remember, animals do amazing things, and they have a great sense for danger, which means that oftentimes they’ll sense a disaster long before the owner does.

So if your pet is looking out for you, why not look out for them? If you aren’t sure where to start, don’t panic. Why? Because there are steps you can take to make sure you’re ready for a disaster before it’s too late. Just be sure to implement the following steps in your disaster plan:

Create A Disaster Checklist For Your Pet

As a precaution, every member who lives within your household should know what to take during an evacuation. One member, for example, can take the family’s personal documents – birth certificates, Social Security cards and IDs – while the other goes outside to rally up all the pets.

If you choose someone in the family who isn’t comfortable with the family’s pet, then choose someone else to take on that responsibility. Moving an animal under any circumstances takes care and patience; in an emergency situation, being prepared is key.

The more exotic or temperamental your pet, the more forethought you’ll need to put into planning. Consider factors like your pet’s temperature regulation, dietary needs, and acclimation time in your evacuation plans. The last thing you’d want during an emergency is a pet who’s unwilling to cooperate. Remember, pets get just as stressed as their owners during any sort of move.

Supplies For Your Pets

That said, you should also have supplies prepared for each pet. If you have one dog, make sure you have enough food and water for at least three days. If you have two or more, however, then you’ll have to double or triple the number of supplies needed. That way, they’ll have enough food and water for a minimum of three days.

Prepare A Disaster Kit For Your Pets

Stocking up on non-perishables ahead of time, can make this process a lot easier when it comes to evacuating in a timely manner. It also helps to keep everything accessible and stored in safe containers. In your pet disaster kit, you should also include:

  • Medication and shot records. You should keep both documents in a waterproof container or place it somewhere it’s not easily accessible.
  • A sturdy, reliable leash to help transport your pet safely from one location to the next. Be sure to have secure cages with very few loose objects inside to accommodate for those smaller pets – like black pugs. You might also need to transport things like blankets, chew toys, and bedding to help reduce the amount of the stress your pet goes through. These items will also keep them warm at night.
  • An up-to-date picture of your pet; and a description of them so residents or search parties can identify them if they go missing.

What To Do During A Disaster?

Now that you’ve created a checklist for your pet, the next step is knowing what to do in case you’re both caught in the middle of a disaster. In other words, your response depends on the type of emergency you’re faced with. Will you stay home and take shelter there, or will you evacuate your community? These are things you have to think about.

If you decide to stay home, for instance, there are things you can do to ensure that your pet is safe. One way you can increase your pet’s chances of survival is by placing them in a safe room that has limited windows. Fewer windows mean fewer chances of glass shattering on them.

This can save them from getting glass in their eyes, blinding them, or from cutting their paws by walking over on it. So it’s important to pet-proof your home by getting rid of any hazards, and if possible, block or close off any small area’s pet can go and hide during an emergency.

If your disaster scenario does require you to evacuate, be sure to take your pet with you. If you can’t take your pet with you, then find somewhere safe for them to stay – like at a relative’s house.

There are a number of people who believe pets can “fend for themselves” in a disaster scenario, and that’s rarely the case. The reality is, not all pets will survive on their own and may get lost or injured permanently from debris, broken pavement, or unstable building structures.

This is why it’s important for you and your family to get familiar with the area and know certain evacuation routes. If there are shelters near your home, find out if they take pets. Most shelters will only take service animals, but it doesn’t hurt to ask and find out. Right?

Dealing With The Aftermath

what you should do after the aftermath

Dealing with the aftermath of a disaster can sometimes be as hard as experiencing it first-hand. The worst part, however, is getting separated from your furry friend. During Hurricane Katrina, for example, a total of 600,000 animals were killed or stranded, which is heartbreaking for any animal lover. 

Contact Local Animal Shelter

If you get separated from your pet while you’re taking refuge, the first thing you should do is contact your local animal shelter. That way, you can reduce the amount of time spent looking for an animal that’s already been found. If the shelter doesn’t have your pet, however, check other shelters and make handout or flyers to give out.

Social Media

Another tool you can rely on is social media – a platform that can be used as a crisis communication resource. Social media has proven to be an effective tool when it comes to finding lost pets and service animals alike.

Pet owners, for instance, can post pictures and videos on nearby Facebook pages to help spread the word about their lost pet to millions of users. Other pet owners might decide to tweet or turn to their personal blogs to share their heartbreaking news.

Track Down Your Pet

If you separated from your pet and they have a microchip installed, then you’re good shape. In that case, all you have is contact the microchip company to help you track down your pet. Some companies even let you install tracking apps on your smartphone to make the process of finding your lost pet easier and quicker. If your pet doesn’t have a microchip, however, then reach out to nearby neighbors and animal shelters.

Final Point

Be understanding and patient with your pet in the coming months. Your pet may take days, weeks, months, or even years to recover from the stress and trauma brought on by the disaster – similar to a person.

Moving forward, if you’re able to, consider donating items to your local animal shelter. Just because you and your furry animal friend might not have to worry about disasters – whether man-made or natural, it doesn’t mean someone doesn’t. You never know, you could help reunite pets and their owners.

Herman Davis

H. Davis enjoys exploring the outdoors with his dog Blitz. If you can’t find him online, you might be able to catch him at the gym or watching sports (Go, Broncos!). Follow him on Twitter at @Davis241. Thanks!

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