Pet Owner Disaster Plan

Do you have your own Pet Owner Disaster Plan all ready to use? The terrible flooding disaster that has happened in my home area just recently has gotten me to thinking about what would I have done if it had happened to me directly - or to a member of my family.

What would I do?

Would I be ready? Shamefully, I'll have to admit that I don't think I would be prepared either right now.

Then that got me to thinking further - I'll bet you probably aren't prepared for something like this either... so, I thought I would write up a disaster plan - specifically aimed at pet owners to help us all get prepared.

Pet Owner Disaster Plan

One of the best ways to protect your family from any kind of disaster is to have a created and talked about your own disaster plan ahead of time. Remember, it does you no good to have a plan if you don't fill in everyone on it and make sure they all understand their own roles should anything really terrible ever go wrong.

And if you are a pet owner of any kind, you must expand your plan to also include all of your pets. You need to have your own Pet Owner Disaster Plan too. Knowing what to do ahead of time and being prepared for disasters can also save all of their lives. So here are a few steps to help you prepare for a disaster ahead of time.

1. Create Your Own Portable "Pet Disaster Kit"

You're going to need things for your pet too if you are away from home for any amount of time. The best suggestion I can give you is to prepare your "Pet Disaster Kit" in advance and then store it in an easy to remember place. If you place your disaster kit in a sturdy container that is easy to carry, such as in a zippered bag, or even a covered trash can, this will also make it easier on you in the event you need to grab it and go.

Don't forget to include these items in your own "Pet Disaster Kit":

• a pet first aid kit

• all your pets medications and medical records
current photos of all your pets in case they get lost
several leashes, harnesses, collars and even a dog crate or carrier to transport your pets in safely to make sure that your pets can't escape
• several days worth of food, jugs of drinking water, bowls, cat litter/pan
• a can opener (if you use canned foods)
pet beds, or a few blankets, and a few favorite toys
• written information listing all your pets medical conditions, feeding schedules, behavior problems, etc. Don't forget to include the name and number of your veterinarian

2. Find a Safe Place To Take Your Pets - Ahead of TimeMost disaster shelters will not accept pets because of health and safety regulations, except for service animals who assist people with disabilities. But this does not mean that you should leave your pets at home whenever a disaster happens - you need to take them with you. You simply must plan ahead and have your own Pet Owner Disaster Plan.

Here are a few suggestions for you to include in any Pet Owner Disaster Plan:

Ask all of your friends, relatives, or anyone you know that lives outside of your home area if they could help you and also provide shelter for you and all of your animals in case of emergency.

Contact as many motels and hotels outside of your immediate area as you can to check and see what their policies are on accepting pets.

Important: don't forget to specifically ask about any restrictions they may have on the number of pets allowed, sizes allowed (since not all allow all size dogs, for example) and the species of pet they allow.

Important: Also, don't forget to ask if the hotel/motel will waive their "no pet" policies in case of an an emergency. And once you've found several places that are pet friendly be sure to write up a list of "pet friendly" places, including their phone numbers and addresses, and place these in several areas of your home - remember to include them with all your other disaster information and supplies that you may already have too.

This will be so helpful in the future - especially in the event you have advance notice of an impending disaster - now you can call ahead for reservations as a part of your own Pet Owner Disaster Plan.

Create a list of several pet boarding facilities and veterinarians outside your own home area who could possibly keep your animals in the event of an emergency. Make sure that you include all of their phone numbers, including any 24-hour phone numbers that they provide, plus their full addresses.

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3. What To Do While a Disaster Approaches

Bring all your pets inside the house so that you won't have to search for them later in case you have to leave quickly

• Call as far in advance as you can to confirm your own emergency shelter arrangements
Make sure your pet disaster kit is ready to grab and go
Make sure all pets are wearing collars including current ID tags (Note: It's a really good idea to include the phone number of a friend or relative on the back of your pet's ID tag too)

Not all emergencies happen while you're actually at home. If this is the case, you could plan in advance with a trusted neighbor who knows your pets well.

If you can, make a plan with them to take your pets to a prearranged location to meet you for an exchange, then that would be really helpful.

In this case, don't forget, your neighbor will need to have a key to get into your home, know where all your pets are housed and where your pet disaster kit is as a part of your Pet Owner Disaster Plan too.

Knowing what to do in case of disaster well ahead of time can make things so much easier in a very stressful time. If you can take just a few hours to really think it through, do your prep work and create a disaster plan, all this preparation will make it so much easier in the event you ever have to evacuate your own home with your family and pets - both quickly and safely.

Important: don't forget that animals often react differently when stressed. Be sure to keep your dogs securely leashed at all times and keep all cats in carriers. Even the sweetest of pets can panic - they might try to escape or hide from you. They might even try to bite or scratch you under stress.

Just remember, they aren't necessarily trying to hurt you to be mean - they are just reacting to the extreme stress of the situation. Later, when the time comes for you to return and you do finally get back home, just remember to give your pets plenty of time to settle back into their old routines too as a part of your own successful Pet Owner Disaster Plan.

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"Politics are not my concern... they impressed me as a dog's life without a dog's decencies." -- Rudyard Kipling