We all love animals, but in the event of a natural catastrophe, saving our pets or livestock can put human life at risk. Unfortunately, and not always on purpose, animals get lost or are left behind and, in many cases, perish during natural disasters. For this reason, planning to take our four-legged family members with us and being prepared in advance can mean the difference between life and death.
One of the disasters that is surely in the memory of many is the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear explosion.
The history of Keigo Sakamoto is undoubtedly the exception to the rule and although it deserves our admiration, his approach and the actions he took in such extreme circumstances is not always possible to replicate. So, we have prepared a few tips to prepare yourself, your family and your pet in case of emergency.
Although we hope that you will never have to put them into practice, we hope these tips give you at least peace of mind, knowing that you can turn a negative thought into a feeling of security and better appreciate joyful moments.
10 Tips To Prepare Your Pet For Emergencies
1. Identify the risks in your area of residence and elaborate an evacuation plan.
Get information from your local emergency management office or the Department of Health on the types of disasters that could happen and how to prepare for each. These institutions can also provide you with information on how to identify and act on the warning signs of your community.
Create a family plan in case of disasters and share it with your family members. Plan for all of you to be together as well as apart when disaster strikes, ensuring that you identify common meeting spots in case you cannot access your home. It is beneficial to also make arrangements with one or a few neighbors who can pick you pet up from your home and bring it to your meeting spot.
Identify evacuation routes and alternative escape plans, and do not wait to leave the danger zone. In stressful situations, it is important to keep it simple and work as a team in order to put the plan into action.
2. Identify accommodations outside your area of residence.
Create a list of pet-friendly accommodations in your area and on your departure route that will accept you with your pets in case of an emergency. Include their telephone numbers, lodging specifications and requirements in such cases.
Make sure to call to book in advance if you know you may have to leave.
Many public shelters do not accept pets, so if you are in need of going to one, consider your options so that you are not forced to leave your pets behind. Ask your local animal protection society or emergency information agencies about locations that will receive your pet while you stay in a public shelter. Although you may feel more comfortable staying together, be prepared to accommodate your animals separately, if necessary.
3. Create a list of veterinary clinics outside your area of residence.
Prepare a list of veterinarians in your area and on your evacuation route who could take care of your pets in an emergency. Include their phone numbers, location and directions. It may be useful to call them in advance to find out their procedures in case of a natural disaster.
4. Ensure your dog’s vaccines are up-to-date.
Make sure your pets have all their shots and their collars on with identification plates. Many pet shelters require updated proof of vaccinations to avoid or reduce the risk of disease transmission.
5. Purchase pet insurance.
To ensure your pet’s health and well-being, and your peace of mind, here is a list of what you need to know when looking for pet insurance.
6. Practice traveling with your pet.
Include your pets if you practice evacuation drills and on regular trips, so they get used to traveling and can enter and exit their carriers with ease.
For more information, consult:
7. Prepare a travel kit for your dog.
Prepare the following emergency supplies for your pets in an easy-to-load and quick-access container:
- Heavy-duty straps, harnesses and cages to transport pets safely;
- Food, containers and a manual can opener;
- Drinking water;
- Litter box and/or training pads;
- Beds and toys, if they are easy to transport;
- A muzzle if your pet requires it;
- Copies of medical documents, including proof of vaccination, especially against rabies, in a waterproof container;
- Recent photos with your pets in case they get lost – many animals look alike and the photos can help eliminate mistakes and confusion;
- Information about feeding schedules, medical or behavioral problems;
- Name, phone number and address of your veterinarian;
- Contact information for your insurance company if you have a policy for your pet.
9. Take a first aid course!
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10. When you return home:
When you return home do not let your pets loose. Monitor them closely as fences and gates could be damaged. Since the disaster can change landmarks or remove the familiar smells that would normally help animals locate their home, pets could easily become disoriented or get lost.
Protect their nose, legs and paws from debris, spilled chemicals and other substances that may not seem dangerous to humans. Do not allow them to play in areas covered with water, as they can hide dangers such as canals, wells, dangerous wild animals, e.g. snakes or lizards, and may even cover charged electrical wires and expose them to electrocution.
It is also possible for pets to change their behavior a lot after a catastrophe. They may become aggressive or defensive. With patience, try to get your pets back to their regular routine as soon as possible and keep them away from danger to ensure both their well-being and the safety of other individuals and animals. Look for signs of unusual behaviors that could be related to high stress levels. Consult your veterinarian if any behavioral problems arise or persist.