Everyone can benefit from having a household evacuation plan in place. It's the best way to protect your family in case of disaster, whether it's a large-scale natural catastrophe or an emergency that causes you to leave your home temporarily. Every disaster plan MUST include your pets.
Keep up to date identification on your dog or cat at all times. Make sure that the collar is properly fitted (avoid chain link collars for dogs and use breakaway collars for cats). It's a good idea to have a friend's or family member's phone number on your pet's identification tag in case you can not be reached.
Have current color photographs of your pet, showing any distinguishing markings, with your emergency supplies. If you and your pet become separated, these photos will help identify him/her.
If you know a disaster is imminent, bring your pets inside immediately! Get your animals under control as quickly as possible, either on a leash or inside a carrier.
Disasters often strike suddenly, while you're away from home. You can improve your pet's chances for safety if you leave him/her inside, with collars and identification tags, when you go out. Consider an arrangement with a neighbor who would be willing to evacuate your pet in your absence. Make sure that person knows your animals, can locate your emergency supplies, and has a key to your house. Provide him or her with instructions and phone numbers.
Your animal's best protection is to be with you, but remember, taking your pet requires special planning since MOST SHELTERS DO NOT ALLOW PETS.
Take the following steps to ensure a smooth evacuation:
|Sturdy leashes, harnesses, and/or portable carriers (essential for cats)|
|Supply of your pet's food (include a can opener) and potable water in plastic bottles. A two-week supply is recommended; dry food is best.|
|Litter and litter box for cats|
|Supply of your pet's regular medications|
|First aid kit for animals|
|Health records, including vaccination records, and a current photo of your pet (stored in a waterproof container)|
|Instructions on your pet's feeding schedule and diet, medications, and any special needs (stored in a waterproof container)|
|Pet beds and toys, if easily transportable|
Snakes can be transported in a pillowcase, but they must be transferred to more secure housing when they reach the evacuation site. If your snakes require frequent feedings, carry food with you (a two-week supply is recommended). Take potable water, a water bowl large enough for soaking and a heating pad. When transporting house lizards, follow the same directions as for birds.
Small mammals such as hamsters, gerbils, etc. should be transported in secure carriers suitable for maintaining the animals while sheltered. Take bedding material, food (a two-week supply is recommended) and food bowls, potable water and water bottles.
Birds should be transported in a secure travel cage or carrier. In cold weather, wrap a blanket over the carrier and warm up the car before placing the birds inside. During warm weather, carry a plant mister to mist the birds' feathers periodically. Do not put water inside the carrier during transport. Instead, provide the birds with morsels of fresh fruit and vegetables with high water content. Have a photo and leg bands for identification. If the carrier does not have a perch, line it with paper towels and change them frequently. Try to keep the carrier in a quiet area. Do not let the birds out of the cage or carrier.
Leaving your pet at home alone places your animal at greater risk for injury or loss, so make every effort to take your pet with you. If you have no alternative but to leave your pet behind, there are some precautions you should take.
Wild animals often seek higher ground, which, during floods, eventually becomes submerged (i.e., island), and the animals become stranded. If the island is large enough and provides suitable shelter, you can leave food appropriate to the species (i.e. sunflower seeds for squirrels.) Animals have a flight response and will flee from anyone approaching too closely. If the animal threatens to rush into the water, back away from the island or you may frighten the animal into jumping into the water to escape from you.
Wildlife often seek refuge from floodwaters on upper levels of a home and may remain inside even after the water recedes. If you meet a rat or a snake face to face, be careful but don't panic. Open a window or other escape route and the animal will probably leave on its own. Never attempt to capture a wild animal unless you have the training, protective clothing, restraint equipment and caging necessary to perform the job.
Beware of an increased number of snakes and predators who will try to feed on the carcasses of reptiles, amphibians and small mammals that have been drowned or crushed in their burrow and under rocks.
Often, during natural disasters, mosquitoes and dead animal carcasses may present disease problems. Outbreaks of anthrax, encephalitis and other diseases may occur.
If you see an injured or stranded animal in need of assistance, or you need help with evicting an animal from your home, contact your local animal services agency