Healthy Paws: Is Your Pet Prepared for a Disaster?

Healthy Paws

Editor’s Note: Healthy Paws is a column sponsored and written by the owners of Clarendon Animal Care, a full-service, general practice veterinary clinic. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

Is your pet prepared for a disaster?

Pets have become part of the family… many consider them their fur-kids and having a disaster plan that doesn’t include them can ultimately lead to human and animal suffering as evidenced by what happened in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Poor provisioning for companion animals in major disasters and emergency situations can lead to abandonment of the pets and subsequent emotional trauma (to the pets and owners) and health consequences OR can lead to complication of human rescue efforts when owners refuse to leave their pets behind and choose not to evacuate.

In 2006 the PETS (Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards) Act amended the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to ensure that state and local emergency preparedness operational plans address the needs of individuals with household pets and service animals following a major disaster or emergency, as well as gave authorization to FEMA to provide rescue, care, shelter, and essential needs for individuals with household pets and service animals, and to the household pets and animals themselves following a major disaster or emergency. This also helped lead to greater awareness among pet owners that household preparedness needs to include pets!

So, what are some of the essentials to household pet preparedness??

  1. Identification
    • Microchip, collar & tags (with up to date information)
    • Have a current picture of your pet on hand
  2. Transportation/Housing
    • Leash, harness, kennel & crate – have a safe way to transport your pet
    • Locate and prearrange an evacuation site for your family and animals that is outside your immediate area.
  3. Veterinary Records
    • Vaccination records
    • Information on pertinent Medical conditions and medications (including drug name, dosage, and frequency of dosing)  
    • If your animal has a microchip, a record of the microchip number
    • (Many veterinary clinics have online pet portals where clients can access their pet records, email records, or can copy records for you)
  4. Proof of ownership/Pet Registration
    • Make copies of registration information, adoption papers, proof of purchase, and microchip information and store them in the evacuation kit.
    • Register your pet with your local jurisdiction – and keep a copy of that registration with your evacuation kit.
  5. Evacuation & first aid kits
    • Food, water, medications (and instructions for them!)
    • Emergency contact information (including your family veterinarian as well as emergency veterinary hospitals)
    • Consult your veterinarian when developing a first aid kit

Want to learn more?

  • The Arlington County Office of Emergency Management’s Paws…itively Prepared campaign has lots of great resources and events to help with your pet preparedness basics — including dog park events with giveaways in April (and Clarendon Animal Care will be on hand to answer pet preparedness questions when OEM visits the James Hunter dog park on April 30!)
  • The AVMA has put together a nice resource for Saving the Whole Family – a 28 page booklet that can help you get prepared for just about any animal!
  • The CDC has done a nice job with their Disaster Preparedness for Pets website with handy checklists.
  • Humane Society US – Make a Disaster Plan for Your Pets – has some great resources for finding pet-friendly lodging
  • Get free pet alert stickers for your home and download mobile apps that may be of use in a disaster from the ASPCA

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