Top among lessons learned from the wildfires of recent years: Everyone – east and west of the Cascades – needs a solid emergency plan in case they're ordered to evacuate. The same is true for pets! Here are six things to do now to keep the four-legged members of your family safe:
1) Find shelter options.
Not all emergency shelters can take pets (other than service animals). Check with your veterinarian for a list of preferred kennels in your area and check with local hotels to see if they accept pets in an emergency. Ideally, you'll have some notice of impending trouble and can reserve a spot.
2) Create a pet foster-parent pact.
You and an animal-loving friend can agree to take over pet-care duties for one another if the need arises in an emergency.
3) Build a pet grab-and-go kit.
Like you, your pets need critical supplies no matter where they are. For each animal, at minimum, pack:
- 3-7 days' worth of food and water
- Food dishes
- Medications and supplements
- A carrier
- A carrier cover (soothing to a pet in unfamiliar surroundings)
- Leashes, harnesses and ID tags
- Waste bags for dogs
- Litter, litter box and scooper for cats.
For more pet emergency-kit items to consider, check out this list from the Centers for Disease Control.
4) Print photos of your pet.
Your phone is probably full of these, but if your frightened pet runs off during the turmoil of an evacuation, it's handy to have printed copies you can quickly share with local shelters and emergency workers who have access to the area.
5) Vaccinate your pets.
If your pet lives indoors only, it's tempting to forego vaccinations, since you know they won't be exposed to other animals and potential diseases. That's not the case in a shelter, though. Talk with your vet about the minimum vaccinations recommended to protect your pet in an emergency shelter or kennel.
6) Identify your pet.
Make sure your pet is microchipped and wearing a collar and tags. Also, if it has changed, update your contact information on file with the microchip provider. Always bring pets inside at the first sign of a weather emergency to prevent them from getting scared and running away.
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