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Quad-City Creatures
By Heidi Dahms Foster, Prescott Valley, Arizona
A local blog all about pets and pet activities in the quad-city area.PV, Prescott and beyond.
Thursday, March 31, 2011

Blog: If you have to evacuate, make sure you can take your pets!

Heidi Dahms Foster

Don't leave your pet behind - he depends on you to keep him safe.
File Photo/Heidi Dahms Foster

If a natural disaster happened near your home and you had to evacuate, are you prepared to evacuate your pets, too?

We are very fortunate in Central Arizona to have fairly predictable weather, but disasters can happen. Earthquakes and floods are rare, but wildfires and severe storms are not.

Much as you would think through a scenario of how to get your family to safety in an emergency, you should think through the steps to rescue your pets. My husband and I have talked through how we would evacuate our pets in an emergency - which vehicle we would take (the van, it's roomier), what items are most necessary (leashes and collars), and how quickly we can accomplish the evacuation.

We have kennels for every pet, although in a severe emergency in which time is of the essence, we'd probably grab the pets and leashes and leave the kennels. If we had more time, the kennels, dishes, food and towels would go. Same for the files from the records drawer that detail proof of ownership, vaccinations, health information and more. We have the necessary items together in one place so we can quickly gather them.

Pet owners should also think about emergencies when they travel with their pets. Some dog owners I know carry their animals' information, including contact information for someone to pick them up in case of an accident or illness, in a prominent place in the vehicle. If you are ill or injured, you certainly don't want your dog to go to the pound if a friend or relative can respond and pick them up instead.

The Yavapai Humane Society recently released some guidelines for emergency preparedness for your pet. It's good advice, so I'm passing it along here. Let's hope you never have to evacuate your family or your pets, but if you do, being prepared will surely relieve a great deal of the stress involved.

Safety Planning in Case of Fire, Heavy Rain and Other Disasters - Courtesy Yavapai Humane Society

During Hurricane Katrina in 2005, we learned that people will risk their lives and endanger their own safety to stay with their pets during natural disasters. "One of the big lessons after Katrina was that we must prepare all members of our family for possible disasters, including planning for our family pets," said executive director, Ed Boks.

Here are a few simple tips that could save your life and the life of your pet too:

• Make sure your pets are micro-chipped and have proper identification. This is the single most important step you can take to ensure that you and your companion animals will be reunited if you are separated. Don't forget to include alternate contacts with the microchip registration, such as your cell phone number and phone numbers for an out-of-area relative so that you can still be contacted in the case of an evacuation.

• If you need to evacuate, take your animals with you. It is simply too dangerous to leave companion animals unattended during natural disasters. The best way to ensure the safety of your pets is to evacuate with them.

• Have a rescue alert sticker visible in one of your home's windows that lists the number and species of animals residing in your home. If you evacuate with your animals during an emergency, and time allows, write "Evacuated" across the alert sticker.

• Keep a back-up supply of pet food, prescription medications, and essentials. Also, assemble an animal evacuation kit with the following materials: One durable animal carrier displaying your name, address, and phone number for

each animal in your household; Pet food (peel tops) and bottled water (5 gallons per animal is ideal); Kitty litter and pan; Blankets; Leash, harness, collar; Photocopies of medical and immunization records and recent photos of your pet (in case you need to create "lost" flyers or provide proof of ownership); Wet wipes; Plastic bags.

• Locate pet-friendly lodgings in advance. Plan ahead now for your human and your furry family members!

Thanks to YHS for that information. And if you have other suggestions, or a story about having to evacuate with your pet or pets, email me and we'll talk about it in a future blog.

Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, April 1, 2011
Article comment by: Roselynn Fernwalt

You didn't think about horses as pets! We have a safe place in Scottsdale to take ours if we have to leave the mountain. The food is kept next to their trailer and a container of water is always available.

Great food for thought.

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