Emergency Evacuations with Pets
Updated: Dec 11, 2020
We're just weeks into summer and have already experienced a few earthquakes in Southern California and WAY too many wildfires. If you live here, then you probably already know that at any given time of the year, especially during the summer, you may find yourself in an epicenter of a quake, and with the last few being fairly substantial, you should be prepared to make an emergency evacuation.
In addition to earthquakes, Californians also experience mudslides and wildfires. Depending on what part of the country or world you are in, you can be ready for whatever the disaster may be. As scary as an event as one of the above may be for us, it is even more frightening and confusing for our pets. We here at Traci's Paws know it is always important to have a plan of action for you and your family, which includes your pets, for a safe exit depending on where you may be at the time of an evacuation or disaster. The Paws Spot will provide some tips on how you can be prepared for some of these disasters.
Make sure your pets are microchipped and that the information is up to date with the microchip company. This includes your name, address, vet’s information, etc.… Also, try to keep a collar with an updated tag on your pet as well. If you have questions regarding microchipping your pet, you may find further information off of the AVMA website here: https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/FAQs/Pages/Microchipping-of-animals-FAQ.aspx, or please call your vet for information or to schedule an appointment to microchip your pet.
Another great way to let emergency crews know you have pets in the home is to have a Rescue Alert sticker on your front door or window near your front door. You can order an ASPCA Pet Rescue Sticker here, but it may be a donation to order: https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack.
You will list the names and species of each of your pets so they can be rescued together, and if they're microchipped, you'll have an even greater chance of being reunited with them.
Another vital part of your plan should be to have a “Pet Evacuation Kit.” This is as simple as having a carrier with your pet’s name and species written on it, a blanket, feeding bowls, 2 week’s worth of food and bottled water, disposable litter trays if you have a cat or small animal, and copies of all prescriptions your pet(s) may have. Make sure to prepare a “Pet Evacuation Kit” for each of your pets, and keep them in a closet near the front door. This way, you will be able to grab your pet(s) and go. But what did I say about 2 a week supply of food and you actually cook your pet's food, as I do for Emee the Chi? Well, if you are in an area where your prospective evacuation may be weather-related, like for a tornado or hurricane, or you may be in an area with a wildfire or in any situation where a warning has already been announced, be on alert and start prepping the food, you can freeze it and be ready to grab it once the call for the evacuation has been made.
Remember to check back every few months for expired food and more medicine and replace it. Try to keep your pet’s medication in an easily accessible area. Still, we understand that it may not be feasible to keep double prescriptions on hand at all times, especially if it is expensive and you risk it expiring before it is needed.
When you are at home, it is always good to keep track of your pet’s routine. Where is fido it at any given time of day? Where does your kitty hide when the doorbell rings? If you are at home when disaster strikes, it will be easier to get (or catch) your pet for evacuation. If you have a cat, it may be easier to put her in a pillowcase, then place her in the carrier if she is scared. If you are not at home, it is good to know where your pet(s) may be or hide so you can let your neighbors or emergency crews know where to find them. If you have a Rescue Alert Sticker on your door or window, it will be even more helpful.
If you know you are close to an evacuation, you should start rounding up your pets. If you have a baby gate or round pen, set it up where you can put your dog(s) to keep confined to a small area in 1 room or put in the bathroom. Keep cats in the bathroom with the door closed. This will be easier for getting them into their crates if/when you are evacuated.
Back your car into the garage or carport for an easy escape, or park your car facing in the direction of your neighborhood's evacuation route.
Once evacuated and have reached an evacuation center or the home where you are staying, make sure your pets are left in their carriers until they are in a quiet and safe room where they cannot escape once the carriers are opened. If you and your pets have been exposed to smoke or fire, please assess their breathing and behavior the best as possible. With the evacuation stress, breathing may already be heavy and increased, and it may be too difficult to monitor. But, if you notice weepy eyes, you’re your pet scratching at them, burns, or any other signs of trauma, they need to seek medical attention. If you are in a center and cannot remove them, please keep them inside the carrier and assess them the best way you can. Always put a call into your vet’s office to schedule an appointment to check your pets' health. Some evacuation centers may not be equipped to accept pets. Please call your vet or local boarding facilities to make sure your pets will be staying in a safe environment. It is always a good idea to get to know some local boarding centers that you may not use, just if they may be future considerations during an emergency.
If you've lost your pets during the evacuation, please call all local shelters, vets, boarding facilities, and even from the neighboring cities if they were transported over.
We never want to experience an evacuation due to an awful event like wildfire, mudslide, earthquake, or any other natural disaster, but we know that we can be prepared and ready if one should uproot us from our home.
Here is an UPDATE to The Paws Spot pet blog, a Wildfire Evacuation Guide with a graphic made and provided by CAL FIRE that we wanted to provide you all. Some information is like what we've provided, and some are very new, but we wanted to add it to our blog because it is crucial and from the PROS!
It includes information on evacuation prep and evacuating with livestock and on what to do if you absolutely must leave any animals behind.
Click the graphic below for details.