Emergencies come in many forms: fires, earthquakes, floods, and more. In the event of a disaster, would you know what to do to protect your pet? The best thing you can do is be prepared.
Pet Preparedness for Emergencies
Have a current list of your pets and/or animals at all times. You may obtain a rescue alert sticker (available at your local pet supply store or through the ASPCA) that lists the number and species of animals residing in your home or on your property. If you evacuate with your animals during an emergency, and time allows, write “Evacuated” across the alert sticker and place in your front window or on your door.
Make sure your pets are microchipped and have proper identification. This is the single most important step you can take to ensure that you and your companion animals will be reunited if you are separated. Don’t forget to include alternate contacts with the microchip registration, such as your cell phone number and phone numbers for an out-of-area relative so that you can still be contacted in the case of an evacuation.
Your pet’s basic disaster kit should include:
- Food and water for at least five days for each pet, plus bowls and a manual can opener if you are packing canned pet food. A gallon of water on hand to use if your pet has been exposed to chemicals or flood waters and needs to be rinsed.
- Medications and medical records stored in a waterproof container and a first aid kit. A pet first aid book is also a good idea.
- Cat litter box, litter, litter scoop, and garbage bags to collect all your pets' waste.
- Sturdy leashes, harnesses, and carriers to transport pets safely and to ensure that your pets can't escape. Make sure that your cat or dog is wearing a collar and identification that is up to date and visible at all times. Carriers should be large enough to allow your pet to stand comfortably, turn around, and lie down. (Your pet may have to stay in the carrier for hours at a time.) Be sure to have a secure cage with no loose objects inside it to accommodate smaller pets—who may also need blankets or towels for bedding and warmth, as well as special items, depending on their species.
- Current photos of you with your pets and descriptions of your pets to help others identify them in case you and your pets become separated—and to prove that they are yours once you're reunited.
- Written information about your pets' feeding schedules, medical conditions, and behavior issues, along with the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to board your pets or place them in foster care.
Here is more information on how to make a pet first-aid kit.
Guidelines for Animal Owners During a Natural Disaster
The best way to ensure the safety of your pets is to EVACUATE THEM at the same time you evacuate. It is simply too dangerous to leave companion animals unattended during natural disasters.
Horse and Large Animal Preparedness for Emergencies:
- Make sure your horse is identifiable with a bracelet and/or microchip in the event your horse runs off or becomes separated during a disaster, increasing your odds of being reunited. An ID bracelet can be purchased online or you can make your own with your contact information and place the bracelet around the horse’s back hoof. A microchip can be scanned to easily locate you through a database.
- Plan for an evacuation. Train your horse to load into a trailer.
- Have a surplus of both feed and water available.
- Keep a leather halter near the corral that’s easy for emergency responders to find in case you are not able to evacuate your horses yourself; nylon halters can cause serious burns.
- Never turn your horse or livestock loose during a wildfire, as they could be dangerous to you, emergency personnel, or other evacuees. If you have to evacuate without your animals, keep them in a safe, fenced paddock until the threat passes or emergency help arrives.
Large Animal Evacuation
In the event evacuations are ordered during an emergency, Tulare County Animal Services will work in partnership with the Tulare County Emergency Operations Center, and evacuation sites for equines and other large animals will be established. Various locations may be used, depending on the location of the emergency and the area to be evacuated. Information will be made available on locations and points of contact via news outlets, social media, and press releases. You may also call Tulare County Animal Services at (559) 636-4050.
More information on Disaster Preparedness
Here are some printable flyers to help you be prepared: