Pet Safety and Emergency Preparedness

    Emergencies come in many forms:

Fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, violent storms and even terrorism. In the event of extreme weather or a disaster, would you know what to do to protect your pet? Be prepared: make a plan and prepare a disaster kit for your pet. You can find out what type of shelters and assistance are available in your area to accommodate pets. This information can help you include pets in your disaster plan to keep them safe during an emergency.

Before an Emergency Make a Plan

Prepare a Pet Disaster Kit so evacuation will go smoothly for your entire family. Ask your veterinarian for help in putting together your pet’s veterinary records.
  • Plan where you and your pet will stay in case you need to evacuate your home. Pets may not be allowed in local shelters, unless they are service animals. Many disaster evacuation centers (such as Red Cross evacuation centers) do not accept pets and other animals.

  • Create a buddy system in case you’re not home during an emergency. Ask a trusted neighbor who can check on your animals and can evacuate your animals if necessary.

  • Locate a veterinarian or animal hospital in the area where you may be seeking temporary shelter and add the veterinarian’s contact information to your emergency kit.

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    Providing shelter for your pet during an emergency

    • Identify shelters or out-of-town friends or relatives where your pets and other animals can stay.
    • Locate boarding facilities or animal hospitals near your evacuation shelter and in the case,  you are unable to return home right away.
    • For public health reasons, many emergency shelters cannot accept pets and other animals. However, American Red Cross allows all service animals in their emergency shelters.
    • Have your pet microchipped with up-to-date contact information for you and an emergency contact outside of your immediate area.
    • Look for a list of websites where you can search for pet friendly hotels prior to an emergency – add list to your pet kit in a plastic pouch.

    Create an Emergency Kit for Your Pets.

    Keep Your Pet Emergency; keep your PET-KIT in a convenient accessible area, which would most likely be by your exit plan if at home. It’s also a good idea to keep a PET-KIT in your car.

    You may want to place these food items in Large Clear Plastic Bags if Possible. 

    Disasters aren’t always dry!

    I use Large Plastic Zip-lock handle bags the kind with the heavy gauge.  You can get them online in small qty’s. 

    • Food and water for at least 2 weeks for each pet
    • For cats: litter box and litter
    • For dogs: plastic bags for poop
    • Medications for at least 2 weeks
    • Medical records, including record of vaccination for rabies and other diseases, prescription medications, and medical history. (PLACE THESE IN A SMALLER WATERPROOF ZIP-LOCK)
    • Sturdy leashes or harnesses, with PET ID
    • Carrier or cage
    • Pet Bedding, or blankets if possible
    • Microchip number
    • Contact information (cell phone, work phone, home phone) of owner and close relative or friends
    • Go to your local HUMANE SOCIETY WEBSITE In your local state prior to an emergency.  Remember at times the internet or wireless service may be down.  Print a listing of your local shelters so your prepared should you or a neighbor need help to contact them.

    Practice evacuating your pet

    • Know where your pet might hide when stressed or scared.
    • For cats, you can practice removing your cat from his/her hiding spot and using your cat’s carrier, a pillowcase, a sturdy box — anything to get your cat quickly out of harm’s way.
    • Train your pets to be in their carriers by making it a comfortable place. Have your entire family practice evacuating with your pets so everyone knows what to take, where to find the pets, and where to meet.

    During an Emergency:

    Sheltering during an evacuation

    • Remember, during a disaster, what is good for you is good for your pet. If you leave your pets behind, they may get lost, injured – or worse. Never leave a pet chained outdoors.
    • Contact your local emergency management office and ask if they offer accommodations for owners and their pets. If accommodations are needed for your pet(s): Contact local veterinary clinics, boarding facilities, local animal shelters, family or friends outside the evacuation area, or a pet-friendly hotel, particularly along evacuation routes. Visit your local Humane Society or Pet Shelters online to find a shelter in your area.
    • Remember to take your pet’s emergency kit with you.

    Sheltering in place

    When sheltering at home with your pet, make sure the room chosen is pet-friendly in the following ways:

    • Select a safe room, preferably an interior room with no (or few) windows.
    • Remove any toxic chemicals or plants.
    • Close off small areas where frightened cats could get stuck in (such as vents or beneath heavy furniture).

    Diseases that can spread between pets and people during a natural disaster

    Natural disasters can contribute to the transmission of some diseases. Exposure to inclement weather conditions, stagnant water, wildlife or unfamiliar animals, and overcrowding can put your pet at risk for getting sick. Some of these illnesses can be transmitted between pets and people (also known as zoonotic diseases or zoonoses). Some common disaster-related diseases that pets can pass to people are the following: rabies, leptospirosis, and diseases spread by mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks.

    • Rabies is a virus that affects the nervous system in both animals and people. Rabies is transmitted through bites from rabid animals or through contact with their saliva. To protect you and your pet: Report any bite wounds to medical personnel immediately. Practice safe handling of pets in a stressful situation. Keep your pet in a carrier or on a leash. Do not allow your pet to interact with other animals
    • Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease found in the urine of infected animals that can cause kidney damage and affect other organs. It is transmitted through contact with infected urine or contaminated water, soil, and food. Wash your hands after coming in contact with urine. Avoid stagnant water, especially after flooding occurring after natural disasters. Don’t allow pets to play in or drink contaminated water.
    • Diseases spread by mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks: Mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks are common pests of stray animals and can be a problem immediately following a disaster situation. Their bites irritate the skin and may also spread a variety of diseases (Lyme disease, West Nile virus) harmful to both people and animals. To help prevent illnesses associated with mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks: Keep your pet away from wildlife and stray animals. Talk to your veterinarian about the use of a regular preventative treatment for fleas, ticks, and parasites for your pet.

    Getting separated from a pet

    • Make sure that your family is in a safe location before you begin your search.
    • If you are in a shelter that houses pets, inform one of the pet caretakers. Give the pet caretaker your pre-made missing pet handout with pet picture.
    • Once you have been cleared to leave the shelter and return home, contact animal control about your lost pet.
    • Last, call the microchip company to make sure all the information about your pet including your current contact information is updated and current.

    Pet first aid

    • Emergency treatment and first aid for pets should never be used as a substitute for veterinary care, but it may save your pet’s life before you can get your pet to a veterinarian.
    • The American Veterinary Medical Association offers specific advice for basic first aid in the case of poisoning, seizures, fractures, external and internal bleeding, burns, choking, heatstroke, and what to do if your pet has no heartbeat or is not breathing.

    Tips for handling injured pets

    • Never assume that even the gentlest pet will not bite or scratch if injured.
    • Pain and fear can make animals unpredictable or even dangerous.
    • Don’t attempt to hug an injured pet, and always keep your face away from its mouth, which might scare the animal more or cause them pain.
    • Perform any contact with your pet slowly and gently.
    • Stop if your animal becomes more agitated or stressed.
    • Try to get your pet to a veterinarian as quickly as possible without risking injury or illness to yourself or your family.

    Returning home

    • Check your home for sharp objects, spilled chemicals, and exposed wiring to protect your family and your pets from injury.
    • The behavior of animals may change dramatically after a flood, flash flood, thunderstorm, or hurricane. Normally quiet and friendly animals may become irritable. Try to make them feel as safe as possible.

    Pet Food Handling Safely for You and Your Pets Sake!

    A healthy diet is important for everyone, even your pets! When picking out the right food for your pet, there are important things to consider.

    Raw pet foods can make pets and people sick!

    The CDC does not recommend feeding raw diets to pets. Germs like Salmonella and Listeria bacteria have been found in raw pet foods, even packaged ones sold in stores. These germs can make your pets sick. Your family also can get sick by handling the raw food or by taking care of your pet.

    What about dry and canned pet food?

    Dry and canned pet food also can be contaminated with germs. Before making any changes to your pet’s diet, talk with your veterinarian. It’s always a good idea to incorporate any new pet food slowly to your pet(s).  g hands.


    Tips to stay healthy while feeding your pet

    • Always wash your hands with soap and water right after handling pet food or treats; this is the most important step to prevent illness.
    • When possible, store pet food and treats away from where human food is stored or prepared and away from reach of young children.
    • Don’t use your pet’s feeding bowl to scoop food. Use a clean, dedicated scoop, spoon, or cup.
    • Always clean your pet’s bowls daily
    • Always follow any storage instructions on pet food bags or containers.
    • Don’t mix foods together

    If you decide to feed your pet raw food

    Wash your hands and surfaces thoroughly after handling raw pet food.

    It’s not recommended to feed raw diets to your pets, but if you do:

    • Wash your hands with soap and water right after handling any raw pet food.
    • Use only disposable clean dry paper towels to dry hands
    • Clean and disinfect all surfaces that the raw food may have touched, like countertops, microwaves, refrigerators and objects like knives, forks, and bowls.

    Safely store and handle raw pet food

    • Freeze raw pet food until you are ready to use it. Mark date purchase, opened
    • Keep raw pet food away from other food in your refrigerator or freezer. It’s a good idea to place in a plastic bag or separate container with lid
    • Don’t thaw frozen raw pet foods on a countertop or in a sink.
    • Throw away any food your pet doesn’t eat.  Don’t save or mix with another meal

    Safely play with your pet after he or she eats

    • Don’t let your pet lick around your mouth and face after eating.
    • If you do play with your pet after they have just eaten, wash your hands, and any other parts of your body they licked, with soap and water.
    • Don’t let your pet lick many of your open wounds or areas with broken skin.

    If you feed your pet reptile or amphibian frozen or live rodents

    • Always wash your hands with soap and water after handling frozen or live feeder rodents.
    • Thaw frozen feeder rodents in a dedicated container out of the kitchen.
    • Never feed wild rodents to your pet.

    Children and pets

    • Young children are at risk for illness because their immune systems are still developing and because they are more likely than others to put their fingers or other items into their mouths.
    • Children younger than 5 years old should not touch or eat pet food, treats, or supplements.
    • Adults should supervise young children when washing hands.