The likelihood that you and your animals will survive an emergency such as a fire or flood, tornado or even a terrorist attack
depends largely on emergency planning done in advance. Some of the things you can do to prepare for the unexpected,
such as assembling an animal emergency supply kit and developing a pet care buddy system, are the same for any emergency.
Whether you decide to stay put in an emergency or evacuate to a safer location, if you made plans in advance for your
pets things will be easier.
IMPORTANT FIRST STEPS
1. Bring your pets inside immediately.
2. Have newspapers on hand for sanitary purposes. Feed the animals moist or canned food so they will need less water to drink.
3. Animals have instincts about severe weather changes and will often isolate themselves if they are afraid. Bringing them inside early can stop them from running away. Never leave a pet outside or tied up during a storm.
4. Separate dogs and cats. Even if your dogs and cats normally get along, the anxiety of an emergency situation can cause pets to act irrationally.
5. Keep small pets away from cats and dogs.
Keep in mind that what's best for you in an emergency is usually what's best for your animals too.
If you evacuate your home, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND! Pets most likely cannot survive on their own and if by some remote chance they do, you may not be able to find them when you return.
In an emergency, you may have to take your birds with you. Talk with your veterinarian or local pet store about special food dispensers that regulate the amount of food a bird is given. Make sure that the bird is caged and the cage is covered by a thin cloth or sheet to provide security and filtered light.
If you are going to a public shelter, it is important to understand that animals may not be allowed inside. Know in advance shelter alternatives that will work for both you and your pets; consider loved ones or friends who would be willing to host you and your pets in an emergency.
When you collect your basic needs (see the link Stay or Evacuate) count also with food and drink for your pet for at least three days, maybe longer.
If you evacuate to a public shelter remember that those cannot accept pets. However there are motels and hotels which allow pets, it is a good idea to know their location in your area or nearby well in advance of needing them.
Take pet food, bottled water, medications, veterinary records, manual can opener, food dishes, first aid kit and other supplies with you in case they're not available later. Before you find yourself in an emergency situation, consider packing a "pet survival" kit which could be easily deployed if disaster hits. Make sure you have a secure pet carrier, leash or harness for your pet so that if he panics, he can't escape.
You may include a cardboard box where your pet can fit comfortably and will not panic. Cardboard is better than plastic in case that your pet needs to get out from it on its own in an emergency situation. Plastic has the convenience of floating and of waterproofing but may trap you pet in an emergency. Styrofoam may also be a material to consider by its characteristics as it can be scratched for escaping if necessary and is waterproof with great flotation. Always provide plenty of air intake holes on the top and don't close your pet in a box unless you need to.
Make sure identification tags are up-to-date and securely fastened to your pet's collar. If possible, add your contact written in a visible place in the collar. If your pet gets lost, his tag is his ticket home. Make sure you have a current photo of your pet for identification purposes. Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to make it on your own for at least three days, maybe longer.
If you think that you have no alternative but to leave your pet at home, there are some precautions you must take, but remember that leaving your pet at home alone can place your animal in great danger! Confine your pet to a safe area inside - NEVER leave your pet chained outside! Leave them loose inside your home with food and plenty of water. Remove the toilet tank lid, raise the seat and brace the bathroom door open so they can drink. Place a notice outside in a visible area, advising what pets are in the house and where they are located. Provide a phone number where you or a contact can be reached as well as the name and number of friends who know your animals or of your vet.
Make a back-up emergency plan in case you can't care for your animals yourself. Develop a buddy system with neighbours, friends and relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so.
If after a disaster you have to leave town, take your pets with you. Pets are unlikely to survive on their own. In the first few days after the disaster, leash your pets when they go outside. Always maintain close contact. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and your pet may become confused and lost. Also, snakes and other dangerous animals may be brought into the area with flood areas. Downed power lines are a hazard.
The behaviour of your pets may change after an emergency. Normally quiet and friendly pets may become aggressive or defensive. Watch animals closely. Leash dogs and place them in a fenced yard with access to shelter and water.
IF YOU HAVE LARGE ANIMALS
When having larger animals such as horses, cattle, sheep, goats or pigs on your property, it is of extreme importance to prepare before a disaster.
1. Ensure all animals have some form of identification.
2. Evacuate animals whenever possible. Map out primary and secondary routes in advance.
3. Make available vehicles and trailers needed for transporting and supporting each type of animal. Also make available experienced handlers and drivers.
Note: It is best to allow animals a chance to become accustomed to vehicular travel so they are less frightened and easier to move.
4. Ensure destinations have food, water, veterinary care and handling equipment.
5. If evacuation is not possible, animal owners must decide whether to move large animals to shelter or turn them outside. The decision will depend on the immediate dangers they will face. Ensure plenty of food and water availability.
In cold weather
When temperatures plunge below zero, owners of large animals and livestock producers need to give extra attention to their animals. Prevention is the key to dealing with hypothermia, frostbite and other cold weather injuries in livestock. Make sure your livestock has the following to help prevent cold-weather problems:
2. Plenty of dry bedding to insulate vulnerable udders, genitals and legs from the frozen ground and frigid winds
3. Windbreaks to keep animals safe from frigid conditions.
4. Plenty of food and water.
5. Take extra time to observe livestock, looking for early signs of disease and injury.
6. Severe cold-weather injuries or death primarily occur in the very young or in animals that are already debilitated.
7. Cases of weather-related sudden death in calves often result when cattle are suffering from undetected infection, particularly pneumonia. Sudden, unexplained livestock deaths and illnesses should be investigated quickly so that a cause can be identified and steps can be taken to protect the remaining animals.
Animals suffering from frostbite don’t exhibit pain. It may be up to two weeks before the injury becomes evident as the damaged tissue starts to slough away. At that point, the injury should be treated as an open wound and a veterinarian should be consulted.