People are not always ready for emergency evacuations, and unfortunately this often means that pets get left behind. Be sure to include your pets in your family emergency plan. Here are some simple steps you can take right now to prepare for a possible crisis:
* Have an appropriate pet carrier on hand. It should be large enough for your pet to stand, sit and turn around inside. This is priority number one because owners are usually forced to leave their pets behind due to lack of suitable transport materials. You can purchase a basic and inexpensive carrier at a pet supply store or large retailer.
* Put together an emergency pet care kit. It should include: at least a three-day supply of food and water; food and water bowls; collars with ID tags and leashes; any medications your pets are on; medical records, which are required for admission into most emergency animal shelters; registration, adoption and vaccination documents; and familiar items such as treats, toys and bedding to relieve stress.
* Create a family emergency plan. Determine who in the family will assemble you and your petsâ€™ belongings in the event of an evacuation and where you will go. Itâ€™s also a good idea to check if the emergency shelter or evacuation site youâ€™re going to accepts pets. Otherwise, you might have to board your pets.
* Find a trusted caretaker who can look after your pets if needed. Additionally, designate a specific meeting point in case of an emergency.
* Stay informed and try to know as much as you can about the present emergency sites and warnings in your area.
For more information, visit the American Veterinary Medical Association website and check out their booklet Saving the Whole Family, which can be downloaded for free. It discusses disaster preparedness for pet owners in greater detail.
Emergencies and evacuations â€“ no one really wants to think about or actually encounter them, but itâ€™s always best to be prepared. Remember, your pets are counting on you!