No matter where you live, it's important to be prepared for the types of disasters that can occur in your area, such as hurricanes or tornadoes. Some disasters can even be so devastating they require evacuation. In this case, Angela Clendenin, public information officer for the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ Veterinary Emergency Team (VET), said it's best to take your furry family members with you.
“After a disaster strikes, the area in and around homes can be quite dangerous for pets,” Clendenin said.
For example, downed power lines can create a tremendous danger for animals, especially where a power line has fallen into a home or backyard. Additionally, fencing that has fallen or broken into pieces also can cause injury or death in pets.
Though some choose not to evacuate during a disaster, Clendenin said for the safety of those in your home, including pets, it is best to leave early. In fact, she recommended evacuating as soon as the first notice is issued.
“When evacuation is delayed, roads can get jammed with traffic or become impassible with early flooding or debris,” Clendenin said. “For those who need assistance with evacuating animals, resources may become scarce or non-existent as the threat from the disaster gets closer. Evacuating early ensures that pets and their owners are able to get to safety before the disaster hits.”
Despite best efforts, it can be hard to think clearly when preparing to evacuate. Gathering enough supplies for pets and family members can be stressful and take a lot of time, which is why Clendenin recommended making an emergency pet kit.
“One of the best ways to prepare your pet for a potential disaster is to create a ‘go kit’ of necessary documents and supplies, which people can easily grab and transport with them in the event of an evacuation,” she said. “In the case that pet and livestock owners get separated, this kit should include photos of pets and descriptions of where livestock is located, using GIS coordinates, if possible. Ensuring your pets and livestock are microchipped or visibly tagged or marked is also a way to identify animals and establish ownership.”
In addition, be sure to pack a few days’ supply of food, water, medications and comfort items for your pets. If you would like more information on what to pack in your emergency kit, Clendenin recommended visiting https://www.ready.gov/animals.
Disasters are unpredictable and can affect anyone. Though we can’t control the weather, we can control how we react to disasters via our preparedness. If disaster is ever near your area, be sure to take caution and prepare your family and pets.
Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the web at vetmed.tamu.edu/pet-talk. Suggestions for future topics may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.