April is Earthquake Preparedness Month—How to Prepare for Your Pets
April is Earthquake Preparedness Month. So, in honor of that auspicious occasion, we would like to share some tips for making sure your preparedness efforts extend to your four-legged friends:
Before the Earthquake
- Prepare. Bring pets into home before storms. Make sure pet areas are secure and free from falling object danger. Crate training is helpful.
- Keep a list of phone numbers handy. Include current photos and physical description.
- Confirm your emergency evacuation plans. Practice with everyone, including your pets.
- Make a list of people who could potentially take care of your pet in your neighborhood as well as outside the area where you live, in case you are away from home when earthquakes strike. Identifying alternative housing for your pets will ensure their safe relocation during an evacuation.
- Include family, friends and neighbors in the development of your emergency plans. Figure out who would be willing to care for your pets in your absence. Agree in advance how the exchange would happen and provide written authority for them to act on your behalf. Review and update the plan annually using a date that is easy to remember (like your pet’s birthday or annual vaccination appointment).
- Prepare a “Go Bag” for your pet. Here are a few ideas for what you should include:
- Bottled water
- Cleaning supplies (pooper scooper, disposal bags, litter scooper)
- Extra collar and leash
- First aid kit
- Prescription medications
- Disposable litter box
- Cat litter
- Crate (Some manufacturers make soft-sided, easy-to-store crates for travel.) Make sure ID tags and licenses are up to date. If possible, ask your vet about implanting a microchip in your pet. Pets with microchips are more likely to be safely returned to their owners in times of emergency.
- Keep up on vaccinations. Make sure your pet is current on all booster shots for common contagious diseases. In an emergency, your pet could be placed with other animals that could be harboring illness.
- Make sure your dog or cat is obedient and well trained. Enroll in obedience classes if necessary. During an emergency it will be critical that your dog obeys you and can be housed cooperatively with other animals or people.
- Keep pet travel packs in easy-to-access locations.
After the Earthquake
- Grab your pet’s “Go Bag” and implement your emergency plan.
Be prepared for aftershocks, which are likely following any magic quake. Pets are ultra-sensitive to their masters’ state of mind. So try to remain calm.
- Try to keep your pet calm. Recognize they may be frightened or disoriented and may not behave as usual. Try to protect them from frightening experiences and monitor them closely when they interact with other animals or people, particularly children.
- If your pet is lost, contact your local animal shelter immediately.
- Do not allow pets to roam freely. Keep them on a leash, even if they normally follow you everywhere. They will be scared and will appreciate more structure in a stressful situation.
- Pets can become easily confused and disoriented. Try to get them on a regular schedule as soon as possible after earthquake or other emergency.
- Monitor news stations for reports of disaster and evacuation orders, and release of those orders.
- Contact your local animal control shelter for assistance. Many provide emergency evacuation services and even provide temporary housing for displaced animals.
After the Emergency Ends
- Allow for the fact your pet may remain fearful or uncertain even weeks after the earthquake emergency. Return to normalcy as soon as possible and monitor your pet for several weeks to make sure he or she is adjusting.
- Check your home and property for hidden dangers and new escape routes before you bring your pet home.
- Keep pets securely confined if work crews arrive to repair property damage.
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