While I was walking my 8-month-old golden retriever the other day, I stopped to chat with a neighbor. Both of our families had gone through the trauma of the death of a pet recently, and one of my neighbor’s comments really stuck with me.
“They say that a pet can be just like a member of the family, but forget the ‘just like’ part,” he said. “A pet is a member of the family.”
Being a longtime animal lover and pet owner, I couldn’t agree more. How about you?
One of the ways that we can care for our pets — and this is something that, for some reason, gets overlooked often in talk about being ready for a crisis — is to make sure we have everything necessary, in advance, to meet their needs should an emergency arise.
I’ve had people tell me I’m crazy for putting so much time and effort into making sure that my pets will be taken care of during a crisis. They’ll say something like, “Shouldn’t you be totally focused on your family if a disaster strikes?” To that well-meaning but ignorant question, I respond, “Yes, I am totally focused on my family. And my pets are part of my family.”
Of course, my spouse and kids come first. But if you have pets, there’s no reason why you can’t make emergency preparations for them as well. If you’re a pet owner, it’s something that you will want to do.
So without further ado, here are my top 10 “prepping for pets” dos and don’ts:
- Do store enough dry pet food in airtight containers and/or canned pet food to sustain all of your pets for at least 72 hours. If you’re able, add to this supply in case the emergency lasts longer.
- Don’t forget to periodically rotate your pet food containers and cans and your pet water bottles, so that the contents don’t go bad before you need them.
- Do prepare a pet bug-out bag containing everything your pets will need in case you have to evacuate your home and take them with you. Remember, if it’s too dangerous for you to stay, it’s too dangerous for them as well.
- Don’t leave a pet outside — loose or tied up — during a storm or other emergency. Tying up a pet outside during a disaster is pretty much a death sentence.
- Do keep cats and dogs separated in your home during a crisis. Even if they normally get along fine, the stress could cause them to act more aggressively toward each other than normal.
- Do ask your vet if you can stay a couple of months ahead on your pets’ medicines so that you can keep some in a pet bug-out bag. Rotate the medications when they are approaching expiration.
- Do keep a current list of the hotels and boarding facilities outside of your immediate area — including phone numbers — where you might wish to temporarily stay during an emergency that forces you to leave your home. Place your list in your bug-out bag.
- Don’t neglect getting all of your pets microchipped. If one goes missing, you’ll never forgive yourself for not having done this.
- Do make sure that your cell phone number is on a tag that’s attached to your pets’ collars, even if those pets are micro-chipped.
- Do put a rescue alert sticker near your front door in case your house is affected by a disaster when you’re not home. That way, rescue workers will know how many pets you have and what types they are.