With all the fires we are having in BC make sure you have a plan and a checklist ready in case you ever need to evacuate with your pets. Whether for a wildfire, flood or other disaster, pets are a top priority when it comes to evacuating. But if you’re not prepared, it can make a difficult situation much harder. In an ideal world, our pets would be forever by our side. But for situations where this isn’t possible or safe, or when you and your pet need to leave home in a hurry, what should you do to be pet-ready in an emergency.
Of course, the key to any emergency is to be prepared. We’ve all heard the message about the importance of having a plan for floods and fires. And those plans need to include pets. So, what can you do to be ready in case you need to get your pets out in a hurry?
Wildfires and floods might be top of mind right now, but there are other reasons you should have an emergency plan for your pet. What if you’re taken away in an ambulance, or you have to travel suddenly for work or a family crisis?
And what will happen to little Maks or Waffles if you’re delayed in getting home because your car broke down in the middle of nowhere and it’ll take days to get the parts and the pet-sitter?
More often than not, pet-sitting services get very short-notice from people in a panic. Someone’s ended up in hospital and they’ve got a dog and a cat at home and a budgie and they think, ‘Oh my goodness, who’s going to feed my pets?’”
The good news is that there’s plenty you can do in advance to make sure your pet will be OK.
The most important thing is to sort out a pet-friendly emergency contact — a neighbor, friend or family member or, failing that, a pet-sitting service. If your pet can’t stay home, it’s much easier to have an accommodation option worked out for them in advance.
The other important task that you can do right now is to jot down a packing list for your pet. In an emergency, you or someone else can pull it all together in flash. When you’re worried and trying to think of what to pack for yourself and your kids and whatever else, there’s just a basic list of necessities that your pet would need if it’s going with you or going somewhere else to stay.
If your pet hasn’t left your house before, you may not have a carrier in which to transport them safely and conveniently. If that’s the case, get one.
For example, if you have birds in an aviary, you should have a smaller cage for them. Keep it in the shed. Or if you have free-roaming rabbits, they’ll need a carrier.
And because you may be on the road for a while, or doing a lot of waiting, you’re going to need a large container to store enough water for an indeterminate length of time, as well as a smaller one that your pet can drink from.
Finally, even if your pet doesn’t normally wear a collar, it’s very helpful if they have one with a tag and your phone number, in case they run away in fright. This, increases the chances that you’ll be reunited sooner. Even if they are microchipped, it’s really easy if you look at their collar and you can see the number and call it rather than having to take them to a vet.
When it comes to floods and wildfires, there’s often a bit of time between the initial warning and the final order to evacuate. If you can, get your pet out as early as possible.
Ask a friend or family member if they are able to take care of your pet until the all clear has been given. This means that you have nothing to worry about to start with.
Here is a list of items to put together in a pet evacuation kit. A pet evacuation kit has all the critical items and information that is required for you to take care of your pet if you are temporarily displaced. Place all the following items in a large tub and have it in or near the car.
Transportation equipment: leads and harnesses, car harness, cat or dog carriers.
Food and water for at least a week: water bowl and several gallons of water, pet food that can be stored without refrigeration.
Current medications and a pet first-aid kit: Place these along with instructions in a small box.
Miscellaneous items: waste bags, blankets and toys.
Other items in the kit are not so obvious. Emergencies are stressful for pets, and when they’re afraid, they sometimes run away. Include things in your evacuation kit that will make it easier to find them, like a recent photo, phone numbers for local shelters, the local phone number for lost pets and contact details of after-hours vets.
And don’t forget to pack your pet’s medical records. If they can’t stay with you or a friend, they may have to board at a kennel and they’ll need proof of vaccination.
Keeping stress to a minimum is easier said than done, but anything you do to keep your pet as calm as possible in an emergency will go a long way to making the situation easier for everybody and reduce the chance of them fleeing in a panic.
Here are a few tips for keeping your animals as calm as possible.
- Don’t punish your pet for being afraid. It can lead to worse behavior. Offer comfort and use distraction as a method to calm them down.
- While still at home, create a quiet space for them to go to. If they have a place they like to hide, let them go there. Follow their lead.
- You can use music to mitigate stressful new environments and unfamiliar noises.
- Distract your pet with their favorite toys and treats on the way.