April is a great month for dogs and cats alike. Warmer weather means longer walks for dogs and lazy days by the sunlit windows for cats. But that life of leisure and serenity can be turned upside-down in an emergency.
It’s important to include your pets in disaster preparations and emergency planning, so Calgary Emergency Management Agency would like to share some tips for pet owners on how to create emergency kits that include items for their pets and how to take care of them when disaster does strike.
“Our pets are members of our family. When faced with an emergency or disaster, the last thing a pet owner wants to do is leave a pet behind,” says Chief Tom Sampson of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency. “That’s why we recommend having a plan for your pet as well as your family.”
The following steps will help keep pets safe.
- Make sure your pet is identifiable. If you become separated from your pet during an emergency, their identification may be the only way to find them. Make sure each animal wears a collar and identification tag at all times. Information on how to get your pet licensed can found at The City’s Animal Service Centre.
- The City also provides cat and dog owners with a door sticker and a window sticker to inform emergency services that a pet(s) is in the residence. Place your Protective Services Pet Sticker on your residence’s door or window. Place the sticker on a main floor door or window, facing the street, as close to your front entrance as possible.
Here is what to include in your pet emergency kit:
- A sturdy crate or carrier.
- A strong leash or harness.
- ID tag and collar.
- Food and water for at least 72 hours (4L/day per average dog, 1L/day per average cat.)
- Bowls and can opener for food.
- Newspaper, paper towels, plastic bags, litter, and/or litter box.
- Special medications, dosage, and veterinarian’s contact information.
- Pet file (including recent photos of the animal, your emergency numbers, contact information for friends who could house your pet, copies of any licenses, and vaccination records.)
- A pet first-aid kit.
- Blanket and toy.
Plan for evacuations. The best way to protect your pet in an emergency is to bring it with you. Most evacuation shelters will only accept service animals. Make a list of where your pet can be taken in case you need to evacuate. This list can include:
- Hotels that accept animals even during emergencies.
- Boarding centres and animal shelters.
- Animal clinics.
- Family members and friends.
Include your pet in your family emergency plan exercises.
During an emergency
- Keep your pet inside during severe weather. Animals are very sensitive to sudden changes in temperature and often isolate themselves when scared. Never leave a pet outside or tethered during a storm.
- Separate cats and dogs. Keep smaller pets such as hamsters away from larger animals; secure them in a cage. Stress can lead to unusual behaviour.
- Keep newspaper inside for hygiene purposes and feed your pet wet food in order to reduce the amount of water it may need.
- If ordered to evacuate, try to take your pet with you. If you must leave your pets in the house, do not tether or cage them. Leave a sign in the window and a note on the door indicating what animals are inside. Provide water and food in timed dispensers. Leave toilet seats up.
Taking these steps now, will save a lot of time and stress during an emergency disaster.