"Emergency Preparedness is one of the most important things you can do for your pets. Responsible pet ownership means having a plan in place
for your pets in case of disaster. Please plan ahead." (Courtesy of CART and Somerset County Office of Emergency Management.)
Preparing for unexpected emergencies with your pet is something most pet owners don't think about. The following article will help educate you to prepare for unforeseen emergencies where you may have to seek other shelter due to floods or catastrophic weather events, etc. Some things you want to prepare for are:
Be prepared to take your pet with you
1. If an area has been deemed unsafe for people, it's also unsafe for your pets. Structural damage to homes as well as contaminated food and water pose great risks to a pet left alone during a disaster. Even if you only plan on leaving for a few hours, take your pets with you.
Unexpected extended stays
1. Make sure your pets always have up to date identification. You may want to include contact information for someone outside your area who can be reached in case phone services are down in the disaster area. Have your pet micro-chipped and keep the registration information up-to-date.
2. Find possible places to evacuate ahead of time. Most evacuation shelters do not accept animals and you may want to consider a pet friendly motel or home of a friend or relative as an evacuation site. Boarding facilities and local animal shelters may also be an option. Always have a recent photo of your pet with you in case you are separated. Photos are an invaluable tool when locating a missing pet.
3. When you leave your home, leave a large message for rescuers that people and pets have left the home. You may want to paint on a piece of wood "ALL PEOPLE/ANIMALS SAFE" and attach it to a visible location on your home. This saves rescuers valuable time.
Evacuating your pet
1. All pertinent records and medical information for your pet. Information such as medical history, licensing, and owner and alternate contact information should be included. It's a good idea to place copies of this info in a sealed plastic bag (zip top). Keep this taped on the inside of the carrier at all times. You will not waste valuable time looking for these important items if evacuated.
2. Food, water and bowls. Make sure you set aside some bottled water for your pet, as well as any special food, dietary, or medical needs your pet may require. It's a good idea to also bring newspaper, handy wipes for cleaning and a manual can opener for preparation purposes.
3. A carrier large enough to accommodate your cat, as well as a small littler box and food and water. Your cat may have to spend a considerable amount of time in the carrier and should have all the comforts of home.
What to do if you are not home when an evacuation occurs
1. Ensure you have a reliable neighbor who can evacuate your pet for you. Have a plan set up with them for such an event to avoid confusion. A pet sitting or dog walking service may also be an option for this type of arrangement. Make sure you have a meeting spot outside of the affected area to reclaim your pet.
What to do if you can't take your pet with you
1. Place your pet in the most secure place in the house. High ground is best when leaving a pet behind, as they will be able to avoid any flooding that may occur.
2. Ensure you provide your pet with more than enough food and water. You may want to leave an entire bag of food (or more) out in case you cannot return for some time. Setting up a pan or bowl with a slow drip from a faucet will ensure your pet has ample water to stay hydrated until you can safely return home to take care of him/her.
For further information on local groups and local pet friendly hotels in New Jersey click on the link to the left named "Resources".