Are you and your dog ready for an emergency? Whether your area is prone to power outages, storms, tornadoes, or flooding, you can ease some of the stress by having a disaster plan and “go bag” assembled for each of your pets. You’re reading this, which is an important first step. Beyond that, here’s what you can do.
Get an Animals Alert Sticker
Be ready for any emergency with a free Animals Inside alert sticker from the ASPCA. The sticker lets firefighters or emergency personnel know how many animals need rescue in your home. If you have the sticker, write “Evacuated” across it if you leave your home during a disaster.
Next, make sure you’ve got your supplies ready. It’s easier than you think!
Make Your Checklist
Your checklist should cover these points:
- Ways to identify and find your dog, in case you get separated.
- Places your dog can stay, in case you can’t take your dog with you.
- Your dog’s packing list.
Who’s Who? Dog Identification
If you and your dog are separated in an emergency, here’s what you can do to keep them safe and aid a speedy reunion:
- Keep current ID tags and license on your dog at all times.
- Ensure their microchip info is up to date (ask your vet to scan your dog for you).
- Keep a current photo of your dog to pass around if you get separated.
- Keep a photo of you with your dog in case you need to be identified as the owner.
- Make a copy of any important documents and medical records for your dog and seal them in a waterproof pouch or ziplock. Keep a copy with you and add a copy to your dog’s go bag in case you need to shelter separately.
Places Your Dog Can Go
If you can’t take your dog with you, make a list of places in your area that your dog will be welcome, like friends and family, your Rover sitter, and dog friendly hotels—and keep in mind they’re not always the same places that’ll shelter you and your family. The Red Cross, for instance, only accepts service animals in its emergency shelter.
Once it’s time to go, these tips will help ensure you all get out safely:
- If you must go, evacuate EARLY. If you wait to be rescued, you most likely won’t be able to bring your animals, and the sound and smells of an emergency situation may make your dog extremely upset and difficult to catch or crate.
- If you’re sheltering at home, choose a protected room, basement, or safe room and keep your emergency gear there.
Your Dog’s Packing List
You should be able to pack a lot of these items ahead of time; that way, you’ll be able to leave quickly and with everything you need. Your dog’s bag should be easy for you or your dog to carry.
- Spare collar/harness and leash
- A copy of health records and vaccinations with your vet’s contact info
- Folding crate or carrier for smaller dogs
- Packable bed or blanket (think camping-style, like this)
- One-week supply of food and water
- Collapsible bowls
- Spare medication and flea treatment of choice (you may shelter with other dogs)
- Calming items that you know your dog responds to
- Pet first aid kit (available commercially or put together your own)
- Rope or paracord, carabiners, or screw tether
- Run an emergency zipline for your dog to exercise without a fenced area (how-to)
- Emergency leash or collar for other dogs you may encounter
A General Overview
The ASPCA put together this helpful guide that covers what to do to prepare for an emergency.
Bottom line: it all adds up to making sure you and your pet get out safely in case of an emergency. If you get separated along the way, prepare so that you’re much more likely to find each other safe and sound.