We often talk about how to prepare for disaster so that you and your family can survive whatever is thrown at you. For many of us our there, our family extends to our furry little friends. Yes, I’m talking about our pets.
We want to make sure that these special loved ones are fully taken care of in a time of crisis. These tips will help you prep your pets for when the SHTF!
Transporting Your Pet
One thing is for certain: in a survival situation, you don’t want your furry friends to be left behind. Whether you choose to bug out or stay put, you want your pet to be as safe as the rest of the family.Have a properly-sized pet carrier for each animal. Your carrier should be large enough for your pet to stand and turn around and if possible, large enough for some food and water as well.
ID Your Pet
First things first: take a copy of your pet’s license and a current photograph and keep them with your emergency documents. This may sound obvious but tell me, have you done this yet? Then make sure that your cat or dog is wearing a collar and identification that is up to date and visible at all times. You’ll increase your chances of being reunited with a lost pet by having him or her microchipped. If your pet is adopted from a shelter or rescue organization, make sure the registration has been transferred to you and is not still with the adoption group. Put your cell phone number on your pet’s tag. It may also be a good idea to include the phone number of a friend or relative outside your immediate area—in case you have had to evacuate.
Have An Escape Plan For Your Pets
You have to remember on important thing: if it isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for your pets. Make sure that you have a plan set in place for them to leave WITH you. If you leave them behind, they may become trapped or escape and be exposed to numerous life-threatening hazards. If you cannot take your pet with you, find out where you will bring your pets ahead of time:
- Contact your veterinarian for a list of preferred boarding kennels and facilities.
- Ask your local animal shelter if they provide emergency shelter or foster care for pets.
- Identify hotels or motels outside of your immediate area that accepts pets.
- Ask friends and relatives outside your immediate area if they would be willing to take in your pet.
When sheltering at home with your pet, make sure the room chosen is pet-friendly in the following ways:
Select a safe room, preferably an interior room with no (or few) windows. Remove any toxic chemicals or plants. Close off small areas where frightened cats could get stuck in (such as vents or beneath heavy furniture).
Keep Their Health In check
Make sure you take them to the vet every year prior to a state of emergency. Doing so will keep them current with their shots and ensure that they’re in good health. We shouldn’t have to tell you that, just like us humans, a sick or unhealthy amimal can slow you down. You should also be preapred for injuries to them. Some basic first aid supplies (e.g. gauze, sports tape) could be used for pet first aid, other items might need to be more pet specific. Pick up a pet first aid kit which includes items recommended by the Red Cross.
Pet Food And Water
We have a filter for our use to obtain water on the go, but there is no reason you can’t use the same filter to replenish water for your pets. Just like us, pets have about 3 days without water to survive. It would also be a good idea to have a bowl for drinking and feeding with your supplies.
Pet-proof Security Measures
The first step you should take when incorporating pets in your survival plans is to make sure that your home’s defenses do not pose any risk to your pets and that your pets do not threaten to compromise the efficiency of your defenses. If traps are part of your defense plan (something I neither recommend or condone), it would be wise to make them unaccessible to any pets in your household. Barbed-wire or electrified fencing can be a serious hazard to pets in particular. However, many elements of traditional security systems do not pose any kind of physical threat to pets unless they’re hazardously mounted.
Train Them To Serve
Train your animals to be of use. Dogs can pull people or small carts, carry backpacks and act as protectors. Horses, mules or donkeys can be ridden or used as plow animals and can pull the sick or wounded. Pigs can be trained to defend the house or even carry items. Birds can even be trained to protect you or to act as an alarm. Train your pets to serve a purpose if at all possible; otherwise they’ll just be extra mouths to feed.
Prepare A Pet Emergency Kit
Whether you stay home or evacuate, keep a pet emergency kit with your family’s emergency kit. Use plastic zipper bags to protect the items. Items should include:
- Collar with ID tags and sturdy leash
- Two-week supply (or more) of each pet’s medication
- Photocopies of health records and a recent photo taken of you with your pets
- Two-week supply of pet food and bottled water, and bowls for each.
- First-aid supplies, including bandages, tape, tweezers and antibacterial ointment (Ask your vet for recommendations)
- Secure, covered carrier/crate (large enough for your pet to completely turn around)
- Flashlight and radio, with fresh batteries for each.
- Favorite toy or bedding (to help reduce the stress of unfamiliar surroundings)
- Cleaning supplies and disposable trash bags or newspaper for cleanup
Leave Your Pet With A Friend
What happens if disaster strikes and you cannot get back home right away? Have a trusted friend or neighbor you can call to look after your pet until you can back home. This is something that must be planned well ahead of time however. Any friends or neighbors must be introduced to the animal and get to know them over time, know its feeding and bathroom schedule and know where the animal’s food, leashes and harnesses are located. Of course, any caretaker would need to have a key or access to a hidden key.
Get Pet Insurance
Accidents and illness against your pets while you are gone are always a possibility, and the resulting veterinarian bills can put you in a financial bind, especially while you’re out of the country. Put your mind at ease by protecting your pet with pet insurance.
If a disaster hit your town, would you be prepared to care for your pet? Let us know if we’ve missed anything!