Saving All Lives

How to protect your animal during a natural disaster 

Eric Williams, Staff Writer

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When a natural disaster hits, you need to make sure your animals are safe and sound. So, here are some tips to keep them safe and to make sure they don’t go missing or worse. 

Never leave your pet behind, unless the house is on fire or caving in and you have to first protect yourself or a human member of your family. But don’t assume your pet will be okay for a few days without you. If she’s left behind, she can get lost, become malnourished, or get hurt from the disaster. Although emergencies are not always foreseen – especially evacuations due to a terrorist attack or sudden fire – having a pre-planned course of action can help reduce the risk of your pet being left alone to fend for herself. 

Make prior arrangements so when a disaster strikes and you’re not home, that someone knows that you have a pet and that he needs to get to safety. Give a neighbor or friend – specifically one who is comfortable and familiar with your pet – a spare key. And put a rescue alert sticker on your front door to alert police or firefighters that there is a pet inside the home. 

If your city is on alert for a winter storm or hurricane, don’t be the last person to leave town. Animals are resilient, but it’s hard to take them somewhere safe as most places don’t allow them. So, it’s better to start evacuating safely and early helps keep the situation calm and ensures every person and every pet is accounted for.  

Pack an emergency kit for your pet as you would for yourself. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also suggests packing familiar items like beds, blankets, and toys to help keep your pet calm during travel. Also remember to keep the nasty smells to a minimum, don’t forget a litter box and litter for cats and plastic poop bags for dogs. 

If your home, city, or state is not safe for you, it isn’t safe for your pets. Know a few safe places to go if disaster strikes and choose proper caretakers to care for your pet if you have to leave him somewhere for a little while. Make sure you identify local shelters, veterinarians, kennels, or hotels that will accept your pet if you have to spend a few nights away from home. And if you do stay home, bring your pet with you to whatever room is safest. Close the doors and block off unsafe areas so your pet doesn’t roam and get trapped. It’s also smart to have a flashlight and plenty of water with you in case the power goes out.  

Whether he’s microchipped or has ID and updated tags around his collar, it’s important that he always has proper identification in case you get separated. In addition to his name on his collar, add your name, telephone number, and microchip number to it so someone can easily contact you when he’s found. Plus, remember to keep photos of your animals to help identify them.