We’ve all seen the heart-breaking images from Hurricane Harvey. I can’t even wrap my head around what these people must be feeling…and how long it will be before life returns to anything close to normal. Thankfully, people are coming together to help people and pets. Animal shelters across the country are taking in animals who used to have homes. Hurricane Irma may possibly bring even more tragedy. It got me thinking.
No matter where you live, tragedy could strike anywhere. Hurricanes and tornadoes make the news, but severe storms and house fires happen all too often as well. Losing material possessions is one thing, but losing a pet is losing family.
There are a few simple things you can do that will have you better prepared for an emergency. This is not an exhaustive list of how to be prepared for a disaster with your pet, but it’s three easy things everyone can do that will make life better. It might be the difference between being reunited with your pet, or not!
Do them this week, before you forget.
1 – Make sure your pets’ microchips have current information.
When the chip is placed, it is simply a number. The finder of your pet must call the company, give them the chip number, and the company looks it up. What they find is up to you. Hopefully you’ve completed your registration, either online, by phone, or through the mail. The microchip company needs your current address and phone numbers, along with others who could contact you (family, close friends) if your number no longer works. If you have not supplied that information, the chip is just a useless set of numbers. Think about all these stray animals in Texas. If they had a microchip that was registered, the rescuers would at least know they had a home, even if that home is currently under water. They wouldn’t be re-homed, and would (eventually) see their families again.
If you aren’t sure if your pet has a microchip, ask your veterinarian. She can scan your pet and provide you with the number, so you can contact the microchip company and get things straightened out. And a microchip can easily be placed if your pets do not have one!
2 – Do you have enough carriers for all of your pets?
If you have to get out of your house, how will you contain your pets? Do you have 4 cats and only one carrier? What if you have a house fire and have to get all of them out at once? Now you’re seeing why you should have sufficient carriers for ALL of your pets. True story: a friend of mine in vet school had a tornado hit her house. She lost an entire wall and roof. She had to rapidly contain her 3 freaked out shelties, and ended up having to stuff them all into ONE carrier to keep them safe until she could get them to a hotel. She couldn’t find leashes, was panicked, it was bad. (She’s actually the one who gave me this tip!) Don’t be like her. On a related note…
3 – Can you safely transport all of your pets in one vehicle?
I’m not going to lie – when I buy a car, I honestly think “can my entire family fit in this car?” We use doggy seatbelts, but also have a couple carriers for the small ones if needed. If you aren’t sure, try a trial run (with lots of treats to make it fun) to see if everyone fits, so you aren’t figuring it out when your house has no roof.
Of course nothing will ever have you fully prepared for a major disaster, but these three small steps can make a huge difference!