Pet Disaster Preparedness Essentials

Emergencies come in many forms, and they may require anything from a First Aid Kit to a brief absence from your home.  Each type of emergency requires different measures to keep your pet safe, so the best thing you can do for yourself and your pet is to be prepared.

Where to begin?

Here at Animal Hospital of West Chester, we love checklists. They help organize and identify things you might not think and can provide peace of mind knowing you are prepared in the event of a real emergency.

7 Animal Disaster Preparedness Tips:

Tip 1:  Microchip your pets
It is the single best way to reunite lost pets and families. A microchip is implanted under the skin in the shoulder area and can be read by a scanner at most animal shelter or veterinary hospitals. Be sure to update microchip registration when you move, change phone numbers or get a new emergency contact. Secure a sturdy, legible ID tag to your pets’ collars, too.

Tip 2:  Get a Rescue Pet Alert Sticker
Pet Emergency StickerThis easy-to-use sticker will let people know that pets are inside your home. Make sure it is visible to rescue workers. We recommend placing it on or near your front door and back door. Be sure the sticker includes vital information like number of pets, type of pets, and the name and phone number of your veterinarian. If you are able to evacuate the home with your pets, write “Evacuated” on the stickers or remove them. The Animal Hospital of West Chester has these Pet Alert Stickers available at no charge.

Tip 3:  Create a Pet First Aid Kit
Keep a kit of basic first aid supplies for the pets in your household. Many of the items in a family first aid kit can be used for pets, too. (See complete list of recommended items for Pet First Aid Kit)

Tip 4:  Arrange a Safe Haven
Arrange a safe haven for your pets in the event of evacuation or your sudden brief absence. Contact your veterinarian for a list of preferred boarding facilities.  (Animal Hospital of West Chester does offer feline and canine boarding.)  A few additional options may be:  ask your local shelter if they provide emergency shelter or foster care for pets, identify hotels or motels outside of your immediate area that accept pets, and ask friends and relatives outside your immediate area if they would be willing to take in your pet in the event of your absence.

Tip 5: Choose a Designated Caregiver
This step will take considerable time and thought. When choosing a temporary caregiver, consider someone who lives close to your residence.    A set of keys should be given to this trusted individual.   Have “Daily Pet Care Instructions” prepared if you are suddenly unavailable to care for your pet.    Pet Care instructions should include:  pets names, pets ages, feeding instructions, medical history with medication schedule, likes and dislikes of each pet, any behavioral advice, the veterinarian, and emergency hospital.

When selecting a permanent caregiver, you will need to consider other criteria.  This is a person to who you are entrusting the care of your pet if something should happen to you.  When selecting this “foster parent”, consider people who have met your pet and may have cared for animals in the past.  Be sure to discuss your expectations at length with a permanent caregiver.  Once you select a “foster parent”, we recommend listing them in your Living Will.

Tip 6:  Prepare Emergency Supplies and Traveling/Evacuation Kits
If you must evacuate your home in a crisis, plan for the worse-case scenario. Even if you think you may be gone only a day, assume that you may not be allowed to return for several days.  When recommendations for evacuation have been announced, follow the instructions of local and state officials.  Be sure to assemble a kit for each animal in your household and keep it near an exit so it is easy to grab in case of an emergency. (See Pet Emergency Supplies & Evacuation Kit Checklist)

Tip 7:  Take photos of you with your pet
Photos can prove ownership if you are separated from your pets. Keep copies in your wallet and your disaster kits. Give copies to a loved one who lives outside your area. Storing photos on your cell phone can also be useful.

As always, if you have any questions on any of these tips or checklists, please feel free to contact us at 513.777-5131.