Does your plan include your pet?

Be prepared: A family evacuates across a river with their pets to escape an approaching fire. Photo by Andrew Meares.

Be prepared: A family evacuates across a river with their pets to escape an approaching fire. Photo by Andrew Meares.

The need to prepare an emergency plan is becoming a reality for an increasing number of Australians. These plans need to cover the whole family, including those furry and feathered.

Director of World Animal Protection, Simone Clark said it is crucial to have a disaster plan for you, your family and your pet before a disaster strikes.

“Many people don’t have a disaster plan that includes their pets. We know from looking at past disasters that people can make last-minute decisions to try to keep their pets safe – putting themselves in danger in the process.

“Pets must be part of emergency planning, not just to protect them, but to keep your family safe too,” she said.

World Animal Protection’s top three disaster preparation tips are:

  1. Prepare a disaster survival kit for your pet with food, water, medicine, identification, and a favourite toy for comfort. Put it in an easy to access spot and check it regularly to keep it up-to-date. 
  2. Identify a ‘safe house’, somewhere such as a friend’s house, pet friendly motel, or animal shelter where you can take your pet during a disaster.
  3. Practise your plan so your pet is used to moving into their carrier. This will ensure you and your pet can move fast and stay calm in an emergency.

The organisation suggested your survival kit for your pet should contain: 

  • Food: At least three days’ worth of non-perishable pet food (canned or dried) in an airtight, waterproof container (remember the can opener). Ideally this is the same food you normally feed your pet to avoid possible stomach upsets.
  • Water: At least three days’ worth of water for your pet, who might drink more water than usual when under stress. Include extra water to clean up after your pet.
  • Medicines: Store medicines in a waterproof container.
  • Veterinary/Medical Records: Copies of medical and vaccination records should be in a watertight container or ziplock bag and include your vet’s name and number in case someone else needs to look after your pet.
  • First Aid Kit: Extra cotton bandage rolls, bandage tapes, scissors, tweezers and latex gloves, as well as tick/ flea prevention, antibiotic ointment and saline solution (ie eye wash solution separate from human use). 
  • Familiar items like a favourite blanket or toys can help reduce stress.
  • Sanitation: Include ‘poo’ bags or kitty litter and litter box, and extra newspapers, paper towels, and plastic bags.
  • Photograph: Store a current photograph of your pet in a waterproof container, including notes on: distinguishing features, name,  sex, age, colour and breed. Also include a photograph of you and your pet together as this helps prove ownership. 
  • Sturdy lead, harness and muzzle: Plus any other sturdy kind of equipment that you think will help control your dog, particularly in a stressful situation and that you can add further identification to. Even if your dog is friendly, emergency personnel may refuse to handle them unless they are muzzled. 
  • Cages or Carrier: This is to transport your pet safely and ensure they cannot escape. A cage/carrier should be large enough for your pet to stand comfortably, turn around, lie down and have adequate ventilation. They may have to stay in the cage/ carrier for hours at a time, so include bedding, blankets and any favourite toy to reduce stress levels.

Don’t forget your dog and cat should wear a collar with ID as well as being registered and the microchipped (and the chip’s details are up to date). Consider backing up microchip details, medical and veterinary details, key contact details and all photographs electronically to places such as ‘Dropbox’, your mobile phone or a folder in your Webmail (eg Gmail). 

You can download a free Disaster Pack at www.worldanimalprotection.org.au/protect-your-pet