Preparing Pets for Emergency Evacuation
By Jennifer Brehler, HSS Executive Director
As we have been experiencing extremely high temperatures and fire conditions the Humane Society of Sedona wants to remind everyone to prepare yourself and your pets in case you need to evacuate your home. As we saw on June 13 with the Cornville Fire the need to be prepared and act immediately is how we can keep ourselves, our pets and our community safe. As we have seen our communities and homes can be in harms way in an instant and that’s why it is so very important to be prepared to evacuate the area safely with your pets. Now, as I write this our sky is filling with smoke from many fires throughout our County and we hope everyone has stayed safe from the fires.
Being prepared to evacuate with your pet is the best way to keep them safe. Preparation does save lives, so if you have not prepared an evacuation plan for your pets, or you know someone who may need help with preparing for their pets please review and share this lifesaving emergency information.
If you are notified of evacuation orders in your area the most important thing you can do to keep yourself, your pets and first responders safe is to evacuate early with your pets. Do not leave your pets behind or set them free. Leaving pets at home places them in extreme danger during a disaster and setting them loose increases the risk to them, as well as to first responders and others evacuating on roadways with limited visibility unable to see or avoid an animal in the road.
Although it is important to have all of the supplies needed for your pets and to know where you can go in the event of an emergency evacuation the number one tool that is critical to evacuating safely is transportation for you and your pets. Unfortunately, it is all too common that pet and livestock owners overlook transportation needs to get from their home to a safe place. For companion animals and small livestock such as chickens, and small goats, cat and dog airline or metal crates should be assembled, able to fit in the owner’s vehicle(s) and stored in an easily accessible place before an emergency ever strikes. For larger livestock and horses having trucks and trailers available on the property that can haul them is the only way to be sure your animals will be evacuated to a safe place. If you do not have these vehicles available, it is important to have a plan in place ahead of an emergency with a neighbor who may be able to help move your animals to safety. Keep in mind many roads will be closed and arrangements made for transportation coming from outside your immediate neighbors may not be able to make it to your home.
While evacuated from your home you will want to have supplies for all members of your household, to include your pets. Although, emergency response situations include many partnerships with local animal organizations like the Humane Society of Sedona, it is important to have an emergency supply kit for your pets. Your pet’s supply kit should be stored in an accessible place and in a sturdy, portable container such as a plastic bin, or a duffle type bag for easy transport. The Humane Society of Sedona recommends at a minimum you have the following in your pet’s disaster kit:
- Medications and a copy of your pet’s medical records that include any current medical conditions and vaccinations along with the contact information of your pet’s Veterinarian.
- Photo and written description of your pet in case they become lost during the evacuation and your contact information as well as an emergency contact.
- A weeks supply of your pet’s food, treats and potable water in sealed containers with expiration dates.
- Information on your pets feeding schedule such as amount and times and any behaviors your pet may exhibit, such as fear, disliking other animals, etc. Ideally you and your pets will stay together, however if your pet needs to be in a foster home or boarding facility and you are separated this will help to ensure your pet receives what they need.
- Portable food and water bowls, cat litter and litter box.
- Leashes, collar/harness with an ID tag including yours and an emergency contact’s current cell phone number that can be placed on your pet at the time of evacuation along with their existing collar.
- Carrier/crate assembled and ready to be used for transportation.
- Pet beds and/or toys (small items that are portable and will help comfort your pet).
- Sign to place on your most visible door/window that states you have evacuated with your pets and a way to affix the sign.
One last thing about supplies, you should check your emergency supply kit at least monthly to cycle through the food and medications keeping items fresh and do not store this kit outdoors or in a storage area that becomes hot as this may spoil the food and medications. Checking monthly will also keep preparedness top of mind and help to remind you to update your pet’s medical records and your contact sheet if needed.