You may be prepared for an emergency, but have you considered your pets? According to the U.S. Humane Society, 62% of U.S. households owned at least one pet in 2012. Here in Encinitas, we have several dog parks, many restaurants with outdoor pup-friendly seating, a water dish outside nearly every storefront on the 101, and an annual festival dedicated to canines in Cardiff. We can guess that Encinitas likely surpasses that percentage and that’s just dogs. Cats, birds, fish, reptiles, and horses also make up some of the various animals Encinitas pet owners may have. Moreover, many pet owners are quick to admit they consider their pet to be a family member. Nothing speaks more to the love and appreciation we have for our furry, finned, or feathered family members than including them in our emergency preparedness plans. For example, do you have food and water set aside for your pet in your emergency survival kit? How about bedding and shelter? Below we provide resources for pet preparation and the prevention of pet loss in the event of a disaster.
Before a Disaster
Pet Safety Webinar
ASPCA Disaster Preparedness Month Hangout- This past September, which is National Preparedness Month, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) hosted a Google Hangout (webinar) to discuss tips on preparing your pets for disasters.
Some takeaways from the webinar:
- Register your pets – If your pet has a microchip (which is highly recommended by many national animal support organizations), register your pet with your veterinarian’s office and a national registry. See AVMA FAQs for more information on microchips if your pet does not have one.
- Plan to take your pets with you – When you have to evacuate, always take your pets with you. Even a small disaster, which may be assumed to last only a few hours, can turn into a larger and longer event. In your family evacuation plans, know the places that will accept your pets too.
- Have your pet checked out after a disaster – If there is any chance your pet has been exposed to hazardous materials, such as mold or smoke, take him or her to the vet.
If you have horses, pre-fill out this mandatory evacuation form. For information on evacuating horses to Del Mar Fairgrounds, click here.
For temporary lodging for cats and dogs during an evacuation, check in with the Rancho Coastal Humane Society. Your vet may be able to make suggestions as well.
Other considerations: Do you board your pets when you travel? Be sure to ask the kennel about their emergency plan. Will they keep your pets until you can pick them up? If their location becomes uninhabitable, where will your pet go? Do not count on being able to call them during a disaster, the phone lines might be down. Be pro-active and find out ahead of time.
Helpful Smartphone Apps
ASPCA – Pet care resources for everyday needs, including disaster preparation.
Finding Rover –Uses facial recognition to reunite lost dogs with their owners.
Websites on Disaster Preparation for Pets
Find checklists, tips, and advice on preparing your pets for unexpected emergencies.
Pets need disaster kits and planning as much as humans. You can get more details from your veterinarian and various organizations, such as the San Diego County Humane Society and the SPCA, 5500 Gaines St. in Linda Vista, (619) 299-7012, www.sdhumane.org. Have your pet fitted with a microchip containing information to aid in identifying it if it gets lost. Many veterinarians, pet groups and shelters, such as the Pet Network in San Marcos, (760) 744-5300, or www.petnetwork.us, and the San Diego County Department of Animal Services, (619) 278-9760 or www.sddac.com, offer microchipping for a fee.
During a Disaster
- Evacuate pets early, if you have warning. If you are not home, ask a friend or neighbor to help. If you must leave pets behind, do not tie them up. Leave food and water in non spill containers. If they are left inside, place a notice on the front door that pets are indoors.
- Emergency shelters generally do not allow pets to accompany owners. Officials there should be able to help find suitable temporary quarters for pets.
After a Disaster
- If your pet is lost, visit animal shelters daily and distribute fliers in the area. After recovering your pet, examine it for injury or illness and see a vet if necessary. On its website, www.sddac.com, the county Department of Animal Services posts photos of pets it rescues.
- The San Diego Humane Society's volunteer Animal Rescue Reserve, (619) 299-0871, operates a 24-hour service to help recover horses, livestock and household pets.