Hurricane season officially starts in 11 days, and tornado season is already in full swing. It is time to start working on those disaster plans, especially one for your beloved pets. Many people do not bother with creating disaster plans. I did not until I started living here in Florida. After the summers of 2004 and 2005, when we had very active hurricane seasons, I discovered how important it is to be prepared to evacuate, not just my husband and myself, but our animals as well.

Your first step is to create a “pet survival kit”. Mine is in a large plastic tub that I can grab.

In your container, you want the following items:

  • At least 3 days worth of food in an airtight and waterproof container
  • At least 3 days worth of bottled water.  Tap water can be compromised by contaminants during a disaster.
  • Extra prescription of your Pet’s medication.  Including: Heartworm preventative, and flea/tick preventative.
  • A copy of vaccine and medical records and a current photograph of your pets (mine are sealed in a zip top bag)
  • An animal first aid kit.  You can create your own in a small tackle type box or you can now buy them from PetsMart and PetCo.
  • Extra collars, harnesses, and leashes.
  • If you have a cat or other litter box trained animals, an extra litter box and litter.
  • Extra food and water dishes.

Then place this tote with your pet’s crate and leashes near your front door.

Make sure your cats, dogs, and ferrets have collars with current identification tags on them.  Also consider getting all animals microchiped.  This is simple procedure that your local vet can do and usually for about $45.  After the vet implants the microchip, you send in a form with a one time registration fee and your pet will be put in a national database.

Then create an evacuation plan.  Contact your local Emergency Management Office, or call the Federal Emergency Management Agency at: (800) 621-FEMA to find out where animal friendly shelters are.  If you are going to completely leave the area, make sure you have the names and phone numbers of pet friendly hotels.  You do not want to be stuck without this information.  You may also want to talk to your neighbors about doing a buddy system to evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so.  If you are going to do this, make sure to show your neighbor where your pet’s survival kit is located and that you decide on a meeting location in advance. 

This is only a very brief list of things everyone should do in case of a disaster.  The FEMA website is a wonderful resource for creating pet and human disaster plans.  Your veterinarian and local animal shelters are also good resources for your area specific disasters. 

Now is the time to prepare and be ready!