By Dr. Veja Tillman, DVM
Whether it is the next hurricane or other natural disaster, or it is man-made, having a plan for your pets must be included with your family’s emergency plan. But where do you start? The lists below will give you a basic idea of what to have in your pet’s kit.
Having clear identification on your pet on a collar or microchip will help emergency responders reunite pets with their owners quickly. This should include your pet(s) name, your name, address, phone number, an emergency contact, and your veterinarian’s information. If your pet(s) has a microchip, keep a record of the microchip number and keep the registration of the microchip accurate and up to date.
Make photocopies and digital copies of veterinary documents, including medical and vaccination records, conditions, and medications. It is also helpful to take current photographs of your pets for identification purposes.
It is important to keep pet(s) from separate households separate especially in stressful and confined situations. Maintain safety and the best hygiene for your pet by packing a leash, collar, and/or harness for each pet, familiar items to make pets feel comfortable (favorite toys, treats, blankets), and alternative housing large enough to be bedded properly and house two no-spill bowls (and a small litter box for cats) with some legroom leftover. It’s also recommended to pre-arrange an evacuation site for your family and pet(s) outside your immediate area. Ideally, this will be a friend/relative or a pet-friendly hotel.
Small Animal First Aid Kit
It is a good idea to consult your veterinarian for advice on making an evacuation kit that will be appropriate for your pet(s) needs. Examples of what may be included in a small animal first aid kit include but are not limited to: minimum 2-week supply of medications and preventatives with clearly labeled instructions and veterinary/refill contact information, antibiotic ointment, cotton bandages and bandage tape, saline flush, non-adherent bandage pads, and a digital thermometer.
Emergency Contact Numbers
Prepare a list of emergency contact numbers now before a disaster strikes. This includes numbers for you, a local contact person, pet-friendly hotels, local and out-of-area vets and boarding facilities, local services such as Animal Control and shelters, Red Cross, and first responders. It is also recommended to keep a list of online “lost pet” sites. Keep one copy of this list near your telephone and one copy in your animal evacuation kit.
Maintaining Your Kit
After assembling your kit remember to maintain it so it’s ready when needed. This means updating medical records at least twice a year, re-evaluate your pet’s needs at least twice a year, and updating photos, food, water and medications as often as possible.
Your pet’s disaster kit should be assembled in an easy-to-carry, waterproof tote and stored in an easily-accessible, temperature-controlled area. Make sure all family members know where the kit is kept. Finally, consult your veterinarian for advice on making a Pet Emergency Kit that is appropriate for your pet’s individual needs.
Dr. Tillman is a 2002 graduate of Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine. Her veterinary practice and work experience focus on patients at emergency and critical care centers in Southwest Florida. She is the owner of Just 4 Pets Wellness Center and can be reached at 239-270-5721.