In times of crisis, pets are often separated from their families and left to fend for themselves. During natural catastrophes such as tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and wildfires, as well as man-made disasters such as hazardous chemical spills and terrorism, people are often told to leave their homes for a “short time,” only to find that they cannot return for days or even weeks. As a result, community animal shelters are overwhelmed with lost and separated dogs and cats in the wake of these events.
In 2010, to help alleviate this burden, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) designated the second Saturday in May as National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day, to help pet families focus on the importance of having a family disaster plan that also includes their pets.
“The best thing a family can do in the case of an emergency is be prepared, and that includes having a plan in place for your pets,” said Arnaud Brel, Director of Hill’s Pet Nutrition Food, Shelter & Love® program. “We hope that families take into account some simple steps that will help them feel ready should disaster strike so they do not have to leave their pets behind.”
Hill’s annual campaign is aimed at educating pet families on ways that they can stay safer and be better prepared to survive a disaster. This year, Hill’s enlisted our help and other shelter partners in its Hill’s Food, Shelter & Love® program to help raise awareness on the importance of becoming pet prepared. More than 60 shelters across the country are helping educate their local communities on ways that families can bolster their emergency planning.
“You never know when a disaster might strike so taking the time now to put an emergency plan in place, and having a bag packed and ready to go, can cut down on the stress often associated with an emergency,” said Dr. Ellen Lowery, Director of U.S. Veterinary and Professional Affairs at Hill’s Pet Nutrition. “The more prepared you are, the faster you can move the whole family, including your pets, to safety.”
Hill's recommends the following Seven Tips to Ensure Your Pet's Safety in an Emergency:
- Ensure your pet can be identified by either a microchip or collar ID tag and that contact information is up-to-date.
- Prepare an "Emergency Grab & Go Kit" of pet supplies that is readily accessible in an emergency. Your Pet Go-Kit should include the following: first aid supplies and guide book; a 3-day supply of pet food in a waterproof container and bottled water; a safety harness and leash; waste clean-up supplies; medications and medical records; a contact list of veterinarian and pet care organizations; information on your pet's feeding routine and any behavioral issues; comfort toys; and a blanket.
- Display a pet rescue decal on your front door or window to let first responders know there is a pet in the house. Include your veterinarian's contact information.
- Learn where your pet likes to hide in your house when they are frightened. Finding them quickly will help you evacuate faster.
- Identify a location to take your pet if you need to leave your immediate area. Keep in mind that disaster shelters for people may not be open to pets. Scout hotels and motels with pet-friendly policies and ask relatives or friends if they could house you and your pet.
- Carry a picture of your pet in the event of separation.
- If you need to evacuate, consider taking a pet carrier or crate if possible for transport and safe-keeping.
For more information about disaster preparedness and safety, as well as the Hill’s Disaster Relief Network, please visit HillsPet.com/PetPrepared. To request assistance during an emergency, shelters can contact DisasterRelief@hillspet.com
In Furry Love and Best Wishes!
Resource Cited: Hill's Pet Nutrition