How to prepare your pets for emergency situations |

How to prepare your pets for emergency situations

Dawn Armstrong
Special to the Tribune

The recent Topaz Ranch Estates fire marks the beginning of what may be one of the most hazardous wildfire danger seasons in the Greater Lake Tahoe Basin. Conditions are ripe for catastrophe and first responders are advising “prepare for the worst, hope for the best.” June is Pet Emergency Preparedness month. Since pet guardians are responsible for pet preparedness, here’s a checklist for an immediate family project. In addition, pet prep kits are available free from the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at 530-542-2857.

Those who evacuated during the Angora Fire of 2007 know how important it is to have the entire family, including pets, ready to leave immediately. That means having food, water and comfort items pre-packed. It means being prepared to keep pets safe in an open field or in temporary housing. It’s recommended to plan for seven unexpected days away from home and any supply store.

Here are some ways to prepare your pets for evacuation from home:

Obtain individual crates or carriers large enough for safe confinement. Your pet should be able to stand, turn around and lie down. Smaller dog crates can hold a cat and a small aluminum litter pan. Let pets become familiar with their crate. It can be an extra bed or safe haven at home.

Pre-pack and store the crate and a separate container with: favorite type of toy and bedding; extra collar or harness with leashes for both dogs and cats; bowls; food (dry or self-opening cans) and bottled water; cleaning supplies; cat litter and scoop; plastic dog waste bags; a pet first aid kit.

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Pack a watertight bag with: instant ID tag for temporary phone number in case of evacuation; current close-up pet photo and a photo of pet with a family member for proof to claim a rescued pet; copy of current vaccination records (boarding facilities and temporary pet shelters require proof of rabies, distemper, parvo and bordatella); medications and medical records; phone list, including local and out-of-area veterinarians and boarding kennels, pet-friendly housing alternatives, neighbors, and local animal services.

Four times a year, rotate medications and food in airtight, waterproof containers. Freshen bottled water just for pets. A rule of thumb for dogs is one gallon per day for a 40-pound dog and one quart per day for each cat.

For the special needs of birds, fish and exotics, you may need a generator and fuel for temperature control, safe handling equipment and other life-saving items. For all pets, keep tags current and consider microchiping for permanent ID; establish and practice a family plan, including how the pets will be gathered and who will take the pre-packed pet supplies; establish a neighbor plan and agree to look out for each other’s pets if someone is absent when disaster strikes.

At the first disaster alert, get pets inside. Your distress communicates directly to your pets. Leash them immediately, put pets in their carriers and pack supplies into the family vehicle. Never leave pets behind. If you must do so, do not tie them up. Leave lots of water in bath tubs and containers. Immediately call County Animal Services to request pet rescue when it is safe. Phone lines will be busy or be out of order. Current ID tags and pet photos are critical to getting your pet safely back to you. Remember, your pet depends solely on you for his or her safety.

For your free Pet Prep Emergency Kit and Neighborhood Pet Watch information, call (530) 542-2857.

– Provided by the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and S.P.C.A. to help “Keep Tahoe Kind”. Dawn Armstrong is the executive director.

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