You know what to do in an emergency, right? You’d probably grab the photo albums, gather the pets and make a run for it.
But have you really thought about how you’ll save your pets? It’s a great idea to have an emergency plan for the animals in your care, so you can give them the best chance of surviving and ensure you don’t get separated.
Firstly, make a decision about where your pet should go if you need to evacuate. This could be a friend’s house or a boarding facility. Training your pet to settle in a crate, travel in the car or on a horse float ahead of time – to ensure they are comfortable and not stressed in this environment – will also make transporting them easier.
It’s essential that all your cats and dogs are microchipped and that all their details are up to date in case you get separated. Dogs should also be registered with the local council. An additional safety net can be provided by making sure your cat or dog is wearing an ID tag with your phone number on it, so that you can be contacted directly should you become separated.
Preparing an emergency kit is a great way to ensure you can activate your plan quickly. Your kit should contain registration and vaccination certificates, transportation equipment, food provisions to last at least a week, bowls, fresh water, bedding, medications, cat litter and tray or poo bags for dogs, photos of your pets in a sealed plastic bag and contact details of your vet, animal shelter, local council and emergency accommodation. By having all these things in one place and ready to go, you can save a lot of time in an emergency and are much less likely to forget anything.
If you know an emergency is imminent, first gather your pets inside the house if possible, to keep them as safe and prepared to evacuate. Phoning ahead to your emergency accommodation and packing your emergency kit in the car can save time and stress.
Making sure that your pets are adequately secured when transported is essential. Pocket pets can be secured in cages or boxes with air holes. Fish can go into a wide-necked jar with a secure lid; fill the jar two-thirds with water and use a straw to blow air into the water regularly. Reptiles can be transported in a sack, pillowcase or boxes with holes. Birds are particularly sensitive to smoke, so ensuring their cage is covered by a wet cloth will help stave this off for as long as possible.
Leaving your animals behind should never be done unless it is absolutely impossible to evacuate them. If you do have to leave them behind, they should never be tethered, and they should be left with food or water for at least a week in containers that can’t be tipped over. This should ideally be left in food dispensers that regulate amounts of food and water.
Leaving a note on the front door or on your mailbox with your mobile number and the number of types of pets at the property, including photos, is a good idea.
In the event of a flood, make sure that food is left at a higher point, such as on a shelf or chair that can be accessed by your pet.
The best thing you can do for your pet in an emergency situation is to stay informed, be prepared and act early. Evacuating early is the best way to ensure everyone gets away safely, and being prepared means an increased likelihood of evacuating safely. While planning for an emergency is not something we like to think about, it’s an important part of responsible pet ownership that could benefit both you and your pet.