Protecting Your PetEvery disaster plan must include your companion animals. Disasters often strike suddenly, while you're away from home. You can improve your pet's chances for safety if you leave them inside, with collars and identification tags, when you go out. Consider an arrangement with a neighbour who would be willing to evacuate your pet in your absence. Make sure that person knows your animals, can locate your emergency supplies, and has access to your house. Provide them with instructions and phone numbers.
Emergency Management British Columbia created the following guide for preparing a pet plan:
- Keep up-to-date identification on your dog or cat at all times. Make sure the collar is properly fitted (avoid chain link collars for dogs and use break-away collars for cats). It is a good idea to have a friend or family member's phone number on your pet's identification tag in case you cannot be contacted.
- Have current colour photographs of your pet, showing any distinguishing markings, with your emergency supplies. If you and your pet become separated, these photographs will help identify him/her. For more suggestions for emergency pet supplies, see the emergency supplies page.
- If you know a disaster is imminent, bring your pets inside immediately. Get your animals under control as quickly as possible, either on a leash or inside a carrier. Scared pets tend to run and hide and could take valuable time away from activating your household emergency plan.
Your animal's best protection is to be with you. But remember, taking your pets requires special planning, so take the following steps:
- Locate a safe place for your pets before disaster strikes. Evacuation shelters generally don't accept animals.
- Call hotels and motels in your immediate area and a reasonable distance from your home. Ask whether they accept pets, under what conditions, and whether there are restrictions as to the size or number of animals.
- Ask friends or family members whether they will provide foster care for your pets.
Leaving your pet at home alone will place your animal at greater risk for injury or loss, so make every effort to take your pet with you. If you have no alternative but to leave your pet behind, there are some precautions you must take to help ensure the safety of your pet.
- Give your pet access to a safe, secure room without windows but with adequate ventilation, such as a bathroom. Leave enough food for at least three days (ask your veterinarian ahead of time what's best for your pet). A sufficient supply of water is critical. One animal can easily drink several gallons of water a day when under stress. Place water in containers that aren't easily knocked over, and leave a faucet dripping into a bathtub or sink with an open drain. If you expect flooding, provide access to elevated spaces or counters. Leave familiar bedding and safe toys. Never leave a dog tied outside.
- Don't confine dogs and cats in the same space. Keep small animals and birds safely caged.
- Place a notice on your front door advising what pets are in the house and where they are located. Provide a telephone number where you or a contact can be reached as well as the name and number of your vet.
- If you have a bird, leave food in dispensers that regulate the amount of food and supply extra water. Birds must eat daily to survive. Secure cages so they won't swing or fall. Cover the cage with a thin cloth or sheet to provide security and filtered light.