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Shelter from Storms

Author: Andrea Miller | Date: November 13, 2013

The recent typhoon devastation in the Philippines is a reminder of just how powerful Mother Nature can be. Living in Florida, I keep a close eye on the Atlantic hurricane season which comes to a close at the end of the month. Hopefully, it will end with no major storms in my area, but it was just one year ago that Hurricane Sandy unexpectedly pummeled the East Coast. And with winter making an early appearance in Chicago this week with the season’s first snowfall, an article on how to prepare your pets for weather disasters seemed appropriate.

Emergencies come in many forms, so it’s a good idea to be prepared.

1. Get a Rescue Alert Sticker to let people know that pets are inside your home.

Put it in a visible place and include the types and number of pets in your household as well as your veterinarian’s contact information. You can get a free emergency pet alert sticker for your home from the ASPCA.

2. Arrange a safe haven for your pets in the chance you must evacuate.

If the situation is not safe for you, it’s not safe for your pets so don’t leave them behind. Not all disaster shelters accept pets, so have a place determined ahead of time that you can bring your pets. This can include:

  • Boarding Kennels
  • Local Animal Shelters
  • Pet-Friendly Hotels/Motels
  • Friends/Relatives

3. Have emergency supplies on hand.

Put them together in a kit that’s easy to carry and clearly labeled.

  • Pet first-aid kit and guide book (ask your vet what to include, or visit the ASPCA Store to buy one online)
  • 3-7 days’ worth of canned (pop-top) or dry food (be sure to rotate every two months)
  • Disposable litter trays (aluminum roasting pans are perfect)
  • Litter or paper toweling
  • Liquid dish soap and disinfectant
  • Disposable garbage bags for clean-up
  • Pet feeding dishes
  • Extra collar or harness as well as an extra leash
  • Photocopies of medical records and a waterproof container with a two-week supply of any medicine your pet requires (Remember, food and medications need to be rotated out of your emergency kit—otherwise they may go bad or become useless.)
  • Bottled water, at least 7 days’ worth for each person and pet (store in a cool, dry place and replace every two months)
  • A traveling bag, crate or sturdy carrier, ideally one for each pet
  • Flashlight
  • Blanket (for scooping up a fearful pet)
  • Recent photos of your pets (in case you are separated and need to make “Lost” posters)

4. Choose possible caregivers.

Have someone in mind who you would entrust the care of your pet in the event that something should happen to you.

5. Prepare for evacuation.

Always plan for the worst, and follow the instructions of local and state officials. Bring your emergency kit (#3) with you. In addition:

  • Make sure all pets wear collars and tags with up-to-date identification.
  • Microchip your pet as a more permanent form of identification.
  • Always bring pets indoors at the first sign or warning of a storm or disaster. Pets can become disoriented and wander away from home during a crisis.

6. Storm proof your home.

If you live in an area prone to tornadoes, earthquakes or floods, plan accordingly.

  • Determine well in advance which rooms offer safe havens. These rooms should be clear of hazards such as windows, flying debris, etc.
  • Choose easy-to-clean areas such as utility rooms, bathrooms, and basements as safe zones.
  • Access to a supply of fresh water is important. In areas that may lose electricity, fill up bathtubs and sinks ahead of time to ensure that you have access to water during a power outage or other crises.
  • In the event of flooding, go to the highest location in your home, or a room that has access to counters or high shelves where your animals can take shelter.

If you are staying at home, there is training you can do to help keep your four-legged family members safe during extreme weather.

1. Potty inside.

Train your dog to be able to potty on command on newspaper or a training pad in case conditions outside are unsafe.

2. Be comfortable with crate training.

Familiarize your dog with a crate in case you need to evacuate.

3. Play games.

Have a repertoire of games to play in case you are stuck indoors with your dog for a long period of time. Teach your dog a new trick or use a brain stimulating game like “Find it” to burn off energy and distract you both from the disaster at hand.

Have you and your dogs experienced extreme weather? Share your experience here.

Want more information on how you can help the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines? Here is a list of organizations mobilizing and deploying relief efforts.

Image Source: Tender Care Animal Hospital



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