Here’s some good advice from some animal-loving friends Down Under, about managing risks to our pets during emergencies. With all the weather-related emergencies around the United States, and beyond, I found good information in this article in “The Conversation,” about ways to prepare for emergencies with our pets.
While the details of Australian emergency situations might differ from those in America, even in the U.S. every community has its own risks and geography and emergency services (or lack of them), which means we pet lovers should prepare to take full responsibility for the animals in our care.
Some of the best tips for taking care of your animals in an emergency:
- Create an emergency plan for your whole household that includes pets. Consider a range of potential emergencies: heat waves, prolonged loss of power, floods, tornadoes and fires. Consider every creature in your household, including birds and small mammals.
- Plan to leave early. Evacuating with animals can take longer, especially when you have multiple types of animals or need to make multiple journeys. It is not safe to leave animals behind, or to leave a household member behind to take care of the animals.
- Stay aware of emerging weather conditions and emergency warnings by tuning into the radio or television news.
- Have an emergency kit for your animals: fill a “go bag” (or box) with items you’ll need if you need to leave in a hurry. If you have essentials (like medications) you can’t leave in a box, make a checklist and know where they are.
- Plan where you will take your animals. Emergency services can’t help evacuate your pets or larger animals in emergency situations, and not all evacuation centers will accept them (although this is changing). The responsibility is entirely yours, so you need to know where you’ll take your animals and how you’ll get them there. Most people rely on taking them to friends or family, but this can sometimes mean that different animals need to go to different places.
- Plan for what will happen if you’re not at home, or can’t get back home. No one likes considering this situation, but it is often a reality. Speak to neighbors or nearby friends about what you would like them to do if you’re not home (and offer them your support if they’re away). Make sure you have contact numbers for neighbors and those who might be able to help in these situations.
- Practice your plan. Nobody likes to embrace the possible reality of an emergency, but all professional preparedness advice recommends practicing your plan – which is particularly important with pets. It’s better to find out early that your ideal plan actually doesn’t work so you can find alternatives and make a plan B and C. This is much easier if you aren’t in a panicked situation with the threat of imminent danger.
Remember, your animals depend on you. Plan for all the human and non-human animals in your household, and stay safe.
Tracie Hotchner is a nationally acclaimed pet wellness advocate, who wrote THE DOG BIBLE: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know and THE CAT BIBLE: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know. She is recognized as the premiere voice for pets and their people on pet talk radio. She continues to produce and host her own Gracie® Award winning NPR show DOG TALK® (and Kitties, Too!) from Peconic Public Broadcasting in the Hamptons after 9 consecutive years and over 500 shows. She produced and hosted her own live, call-in show CAT CHAT® on the Martha Stewart channel of Sirius/XM for over 7 years until the channel was canceled, when Tracie created her own Radio Pet Lady Network where she produces and co-hosts CAT CHAT® along with 10 other pet talk radio podcasts with top veterinarians and pet experts.
Tracie also is the Founder and Director of the annual NY Dog Film Festival, a philanthropic celebration of the love between dogs and their people. Short canine-themed documentary, animated and narrative films from around the world create a shared audience experience that inspires, educates and entertains. With a New York City premiere every October, the Festival then travels around the country, partnering in each location with an outstanding animal welfare organization that brings adoptable dogs to the theater and receives half the proceeds of the ticket sales. Halo was a Founding Sponsor in 2015 and donated 10,000 meals to the beneficiary shelters in every destination around the country in 2016.
Tracie lives in Bennington, Vermont – where the Radio Pet Lady Network studio is based – and where her 12 acres are well-used by her 2-girl pack of lovely, lively rescued Weimaraners, Maisie and Wanda.