Preparation & Safety During Disasters
Disasters can occur at anytime and anywhere. It is important to make plans now to help save yourself and your pets.
Oklahoma experiences many different kinds of disasters, including tornadoes, flooding, fires, and ice storms. Some of these will require you and your pet to shelter in place, while others will require you and your pet to evacuate.
Always remember to prepare as best as you can for as many situations as you can.
Evacuation Planning Tips
Always take your pet with you when you evacuate. If it is not safe for you to stay in the area, it is not safe for your pet.
- Develop an evacuation plan and a shelter in place plan.
- If you live in an apartment, make sure your animals are on record with management and are able to evacuate via the stairwell. Dogs should be taught to go up and down stairs to better assist rescue personnel.
- Cats and small dogs should be trained to be readily retrievable and not resist being put into their carriers.
- Practice collecting and taking your pets into your tornado shelter. Make it a positive experience each time for your pet, so they won’t resist you when an emergency strikes.
- Plan ahead to ensure your pet will have safe shelter.
- Identify near-by facilities where you can board your pet.
- Contact hotels outside your immediate area to locate “pet-friendly” ones and keep a list of them in your emergency kit.
- Contact friends and relatives outside your area to see if they will shelter you and your pets.
- Make alternate arrangements if you are not at home.
Designate a neighbor to tend to your pets if you are not home. Be sure they are familiar with your pets and where your emergency kit is located. Give them your veterinary information and file a permission slip with your veterinary office authorizing them to seek medical treatment for your pet if you are not there.
- Ensure you have access to proof of ownership records.
- You will need proof of ownership to retrieve your pet from a shelter.
- Be sure all of your animals have a properly fitting collar with current personal tags and rabies tags.
- Collars can slip off, so it is best to have your pet microchipped. Microchipping is the best and easiest method of permanently identifying your pet.
- Keep photographs of you with your pet. Be sure any distinguishing markings of your pet are visible.
- Give a copy of these photographs to a friend or relative out of town in case your copies are lost.
Preparing for an Emergency
Just as you should have an emergency kit for your family, you should also make one for your pets.
- Keep these items in your kit.
- Pet carrier or cage for each pet
- Leash, collar and harness for each pet
- Identification on the pets (tag, microchip)
- One week supply of food and water
- Travel bowls for food and water
- Vaccination and medical records
- Medications with instructions
- Emergency contact information (including your veterinarian)
- Photographs and other proof of ownership
- First aid kit
- Familiar toy or blanket
- Stakes and tie outs
- Manual can opener
- Spoon (canned food)
- Paper towels
- Litter, litter pan, litter scoop
- Trash bags
- Batteries (flashlight, radio)
- Radio (solar and battery operated)
- Newspaper for bedding or litter
- Take precautions during an emergency.
- Evacuate as early as possible.
- Be aware of changing conditions.
- Take your emergency kit with you when you leave.
- Stay safe after the disaster.
- Monitor your pets closely and keep them leashed. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and can cause confusion or abnormal behavior.
- Examine your animals closely and contact your veterinarian immediately if you observe injuries or signs of illness.
- Survey the area inside and outside your home to identify potential dangers (downed power lines, fallen trees, debris).
- Release pets indoors only. They could encounter dangerous hazards if allowed to go outside unsupervised.
- Reintroduce food in small servings and gradually work up to full portions if your pets have been without food for a prolonged period of time.
- Allow uninterrupted rest/sleep for all animals to recover from the trauma and stress.
- Search for lost pets.
- Visit each shelter daily. You must check in person as you are the only person who can truly identify your pet. Bring the photos you have of you with your pet.
- Create flyers with your pet’s photo and description, pet’s name and your contact information.
- Notify local veterinary offices, neighbors, local animal control offices and local animal shelters.
- When you do find your pet have it examined immediately for injury or illness.
Use these resources to research disaster preparedness and plan for emergencies.
U.S. Government “Ready Pets” Brochures
ASPCA — Click on “Emergency Preparedness” for advice
AVMA — Click on “Disaster Preparedness” for brochures and manuals