When making a checklist for a flood, you’re checking for the necessities. Excessive amounts of non-perishable food items and flashlights are littered across the house – but what about stuff for your pet?
Aileen White, director of communications for the Winnipeg Humane Society, said that when people are formulating evacuation plans for their families they usually forget to do a pet emergency kit.
These kits are a must have when evacuating your pets to make sure all their needs are taken care of.
Any medication your pet takes and their medical records are a mandatory part of this kit along with at least a three-day supply of food and water. As well, a carrier containing any toys or blankets to comfort the animal is imperative.
If you have a cat, your kit should also have a litter box and a spare small zip lock bag of litter. It is important to make sure your pet’s ID is identifiable and up to date, even going as far as registering them with Petlynx, an online pet database. If you have no choice but to leave your animal, let your veterinarian know of your where you will be.
People expect pets to act how a human would act in a critical situation and that they would do anything to stay out of harms way. However, this is not always so and if your pet is acting distressed, make sure to separate them for their safety and for yours.
“You would think that since cats are so nimble that they would climb trees to escape the water,” White said. “In fact, during Hurricane Katrina, most cats left on their own drowned.”
A few evacuation shelters do not accept pets, but keep in mind that most hotels and motels lift their “no pet” rule in case of emergencies. As a back up plan, talk to friends or family who live outside the affected area to see if you could stay with them.
“We recommend people register their pet’s ID information with the Winnipeg Humane Society,” White said.
This makes it as easy as possible for pets to be identified when they are displaced. White added that pet owners should make sure they carry a current picture of their pet with them, and make sure that they can accurately and vividly describe what their pet looks like.
A lifelong animal lover and owner who currently has four dogs and two cats, Allison Moyer has considered what she and her husband would do in case of an emergency.
The couple keeps its animal carrying cases assembled and easily accessible so that if they were ever forced to evacuate in a hurry, they would be able to quickly secure and transport the animals.
She also adds that when she was young, part of her family’s escape plan included assigning pets to certain people during an evacuation.
“I think that it is important that people have a ‘pet plan’ in place for any emergency,” Moyer said in an e-mail. “However, you must also be aware of your own safety. Searching for your cat in a burning building does not a hero make.”
Published in Volume 63, Number 26 of The Uniter (April 2, 2009)