Preparing pets for a disaster |

Preparing pets for a disaster

Dawn Armstrong
Lake Tahoe Humane Society and SPCA

September is National Preparedness Month. Colorado fires, California gas explosions, New York tornadoes are reminders that any one at any time can be affected by a disaster. Make sure your companion animals will be safe. Get the family together to make and practice an emergency plan, including how the pets will be gathered and who will take pre-packed pet supplies.

Stop by the Lake Tahoe Humane Society office for a free Pet Emergency Preparedness Kit including window decal, emergency ID tag, and more. Call 530-542-2857 for help to establish a year-round Neighborhood Watch for pets. Then neighbors can rescue animals if someone is absent when disaster strikes. Download a family and pets emergency planning guide at

Those who evacuated during the 2007 Angora Fire know how important it is to have the entire family – including pets – ready to “go now.” That means food, water and comfort items pre-packed. It means being prepared to keep your pets safe in an open field or in temporary housing for at least 72 hours. Here’s how to outfit your pets for seven unexpected days away from home and supplies.

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

– Pre-pack and store the crate and/or a separate container with a 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 and a a pet first aid kit.

– Pack a water-tight 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 up-to-date vaccination records (Note: Boarding facilities and pet-friendly shelters require proof of current rabies, distemper, parvo and bordatella vaccinations); medications and medical records; phone list including local and out-of-area veterinarians and boarding kennels, pet friendly housing alternatives, neighbors and county 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 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. You will need alternative housing. Temporary shelters accept only companion animals as defined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

– At the first disaster alert, leash your pets and get them into the car. Never leave your 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. Current ID tags and pet photos are critical in getting your pet back to you. Microchip for permanent ID and keep registration current.

– If evacuated, contact El Dorado County Animal Services or the Lake Tahoe Humane Society to find out where a temporary animal shelter will be located.

Your pets depend on you to be safe, especially in emergency.

Provided by the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to help “Keep Tahoe Kind.”

– Dawn Armstrong is the executive director of the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and SPCA.

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