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Tips on How to Prepare Your Pet for a Natural Disaster

Tips on How to Prepare Your Pet for a Natural Disaster

A no-kill animal rescue and sanctuary based in California’s Napa Valley, the Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch (JARR) was founded by David and Monica Stevens in 2014. The nonprofit maintains an adoption center and animal rescue shelter, in addition to hosting programming at its property on Cuttings Wharf Road in Carneros. The site on which the ranch was built had been used for animal boarding in the past and—in keeping with tradition—JARR welcomes animals that have been forced to evacuate during natural disasters. Additionally, it offers numerous tips and resources on its website in regards to how to prepare in those instances. Here are some of those considerations:

Put Together an Evacuation Pack

When developing an emergency response plan in preparation for a natural disaster, it’s vital to consider your pets. In case of an evacuation, it’s vital to take them with you if possible, or else you’ll risk losing them. Leaving them behind could put both you and your pets in peril and create a dangerous situation for first responders. This is why it’s necessary to put together an evacuation pack, or “evac-pack,” for your pets.

evacuation pack planning

The primary items that JARR recommends that you include in an evac-pack are a pet first-aid kit and at least three to seven days’ worth of dry or canned food. Ask a veterinarian for suggestions about what to put in a first-aid kit for your pet. You should include aluminum roasting pans or other disposable items that can serve as litter trays, as well as litter or paper towels. Dishes and water bowls should also be included, along with cleaning materials such as dish soap and disinfectant. In addition, you should add items such as bottled water, a blanket, pet-specific toys, and a traveling bag or study carrier. Finally, in the event that you become separated from your pet during an evacuation, you should make sure that you have recent photos of it so that you can make “lost” posters.

Rescue Alert Stickers

If it’s not possible to leave with your pet, your next best bet is to place a rescue alert sticker on the door of your home so that rescue workers are aware that there is a pet in your house. Alert stickers can often be purchased at local pet supply stores. They can also be requested free of charge as part of a pet safety pack on the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) website. In this pack, the ASPCA also sends an Animal Poison Control Center magnet. The alert sticker includes space to signify whether you have a dog or cat or other pet in your home, as well as room to include the name and phone number of a veterinarian. If you have an alert sticker on your home and manage to evacuate with your pets, you should be sure to write “evacuated” on the sticker.

Designated Caregivers and Safe Havens

It might not always be feasible to continue caring for your pet, at least on an interim basis, in the event of a disaster. For these occasions, you should consider selecting a designated caregiver who can step in at a moment’s notice and provide a safe haven for your pet. Unlike a temporary caregiver who should live nearby and preferably have access to your home, a permanent or long-term caregiver should be someone who has previously met your pet and has experience in caring for it. They must also understand the magnitude of the responsibility of caring for pets.

If both you and a designated caregiver are forced to evacuate following a disaster, you can ask relatives or friends in other areas to take in your pet or seek out a hotel at which you can stay that accommodate pets. Another option is to drop off your pet at a local animal shelter, provided that it accepts pets. While JARR does accept pets in those cases, not all shelters have the space or resources to do so.

Horses and Farm Animals

Disaster plans can vary based on the type of animal you have. Since horses are significantly more high-maintenance than other animals, ensuring their safety in the event of a natural disaster will require much more preparation. There are several tasks that should be completed as precautionary measures in advance of any disaster. They should include ensuring that all of your horses have had a tetanus toxoid vaccination in the past year, a negative Coggins test that will allow them to obtain care at a community shelter in the event of an evacuation, and a health certificate in order to cross state lines.

Horses should also have some form of identification, whether it’s a leather halter with its name and farm information stored in a secured Ziploc bag, neck collar, mane clips, or even a microchip. In the event of a hurricane, it’s important to evacuate horses 48 hours in advance, as transporting equine animals with wind gusts in excess of 40 miles per hour can prove dangerous. Potential evacuation sites could include racetracks, pastures, stables, equestrian centers, or fairgrounds. If evacuation isn’t possible, make sure you’re aware of the number of horses and other animals on your property, as well as their favorite hiding spots.

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