The Protect IU Blog
In "Ruff" situations: Don't forget about Fido
At the moment, my family is in the process of renovating our basement. We’re clearing out old junk and sprucing up the place. In the middle of this process, I asked my mom if we could add a storm shelter under one of the two sets of stairs. She said that she had already brought that up with my dad, but our storm shelter would need to be big enough to hold not only my parents, brother, and myself, but also our three dogs. Two of the dogs each weigh over 80 pounds (they have an obsession with bread). So if you haven’t figured out already where I’m going with this, this week we want to know: How do you plan for your pets in a disaster situation?
One of my dogs, Phoebe, hates thunderstorms. We normally know a storm is coming if she starts scratching on the basement door. We know it’s going to get really bad if she goes down to the basement and then keeps coming back up trying to get us to go with her. Pets seem to have an extra sense, like they know when bad things are coming. Sometimes we kind of use Phoebe as an early warning system, and we ask ourselves if maybe we should head to the basement.
This is then where planning comes in. Phoebe may get us all to the basement, but then what? If something were to happen, do we have supplies for not only ourselves, but for our pets as well?
The best thing about this is that there is tons of information out there about how to prepare and plan for your pets before, during and after a disaster. And this shouldn’t just apply to families. I know many of you students also have dogs that you have brought with you to school. The United States Search and Rescue Task Force, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the American Red Cross offer many unique opportunities and resources on how to prepare your pets for any kind of disaster.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
Have a safe place to take your pets. If you have to evacuate, this is especially important. Not many shelters will allow you to bring your pets. So, before disaster strikes, you need to identify places—such as hotels, motels, friends, or family—that are outside the likely disaster area and either allow pets or would be willing to shelter your pets.
Create a preparedness kit for your pets. Make sure to include a pet first aid kit (yes, they make these), any medications your pet is taking, pet food, water and veterinary records. It is also important to include leashes, harnesses, or carrying equipment that you might use for your pets.
Make sure your pet has the proper identification. If you have a little warning time before a disaster strikes you can put some additional information on a temporary ID tag; including where you are headed if you are forced to evacuate, and additional telephone numbers, etc.
Another important thing to consider is carrying around a current photo of your pets. I don’t mean on your cell phone (remember, one of the first things to go in a disaster is cell service). I’m talking about having an actual hard copy of a photo of your pet – put a copy in your glove box in the car.
If you want to learn more about how to prepare yourselves and your pets for a disaster, I suggest checking out a free online class offered through FEMA called “Animals in Disasters: Awareness and Preparedness.” The American Red Cross also offers a course in “Pet First Aid” that will show you how to care for your pet if something were to happen to them. These are all just things to consider as disasters can happen at any time and we need to prepare for everyone, including our pets.
Don’t just leave your pets behind during a disaster with the thought that they can fend for themselves. Would you leave your brother or sister behind? I don’t think so. In my family, our dogs are family members, too. As far as I see it, I have one brother and three sisters. It doesn’t matter if they’re human or