In light of the torrential rainstorms hitting Southern California this week, it’s a good time to review any disaster plans for your dogs and prepare for the next event.
Locate a friend or family member who will house you and/or your pet during an evacuation. Look into motels, kennels, veterinary offices, shelters and boarding facilities, too. Figure out where you’ll go, and who will take care of your dogs if you need to stay at a public emergency shelter, which most likely will not allow pets. Have a few scenarios sketched out and planned. But the most important thing you can do, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is to take your dogs with you if you evacuate. Just remember: If it is not safe for you to be in the house, it is not safe for your pets.
Have an emergency kit ready to go and filled with everything your dog needs: five days worth of food and water, medicine, bowls, leash, blanket, toy. Don’t forget to have a carrier (such as a kennel) that’s sturdy and roomy enough to allow the dog to stand up and turn around. A pet first-aid kit is vital, too. Include in that antibacterial ointment, gauze, alcohol pads, bandages, scissors, gloves and tape. For more, click here.
Also include a copy of all vaccination and medical records, as well as a current photo of your dog. The latter helps you reunite if you separate. It’s also beneficial to have a copy of the dog’s schedule, such as feeding times, medication times, likes, dislikes, needs, exercise schedule, etc. By doing this, you help the person babysitting your dog keep him on a known routine, which helps ward off stress and anxiety.
The other thing you want is your dog’s identification. Make sure he wears his tags all the time. If he doesn’t, know where those tags are and make sure to put them on before you leave during an evacuation. These will be invaluable in helping you to find your dog if he gets lost or separated from you.
Many people usually wait until the official call for evacuations comes down before vacating the property. But if you have dogs, especially many or larger ones, it’s best to get moving when the evacuation order is voluntary. It’s better to be safe than sorry. You never want to be forced to leave without your pets. Evacuating early gives you time to leave, and it helps you beat the traffic. Also, your dogs will be less stressed if you are able to vacate in a calmer, less-harried fashion.
Have an evacuation route mapped out. In fact, have a couple. As we saw in this week’s storms, flooding made many roads impossible to travel on. Find a few ways you can get out of your home and to your chosen destination. Again, this lessens your stress, and your dogs’ stress too.
If you are routinely away from home during the day, make sure a trusted neighbor has keys to your house, knows where your dog’s emergency kit is located and also knows and likes your dog. That way, if disaster strikes and you can’t get home, your neighbor can evacuate your dog and take him to your designated meeting spot, such as your pre-chosen family member’s home, hotel or boarding facility.
When you return home after a disaster, keep your dogs leashed and close to you at all times. Things (sights, smells) all seem different and disorienting. Also, wildlife like snakes might be out in the open. A leashed dog is one that is easier to control, and safer. Remember that what happened is traumatic for everyone involved, so be patient if your dog seems to digress into misbehavior. Things will settle soon, on all fronts.
For more information on the subject, check out the Humane Society of the United States website.