Tips for pre­par­ing your pets in case of an emer­gency

The Mercury News - - Local News - Joan Mor­ris Columnist

We do all we can to keep our pets safe and healthy. We take them for reg­u­lar vet check­ups, keep their vac­ci­na­tions up-to-date, make sure they don’t get into foods or sit­u­a­tions that can harm them. But what about the un­ex­pected threats?

If the re­cent hur­ri­canes and firestorms have taught us any­thing, it’s that we can’t be com­pla­cent when it comes to be­ing pre­pared for what­ever dis­as­ter might be­fall us.

Here are some tips for pre­par­ing for an emer­gency to en­sure we get our pets to safety.

• Make an agree­ment with your neigh­bors or a friend that lives close by. If you aren’t home when an emer­gency hap­pens, you’ll want some­one you trust to take charge of your pets and get them to safety.

• Have your pets mi­crochipped and have them wear other iden­ti­fi­ca­tion tags. Both will in­crease your chances of lo­cat­ing your pet should you be­come sep­a­rated.

• Pack a bag. Just as you have an earth­quake pre­pared­ness kit for you and your hu­man fam­ily mem­bers (you do have an earth­quake kit, don’t you?), you’ll need one for your pets. Fill it with food and water (enough for at least three days); a leash and col­lar; any medicine they’re re­ceiv­ing; copies of their med­i­cal records; a first aid kit that in­cludes cotton ban­dage rolls, tape and scis­sors, an­tibi­otic oint­ment, sur­gi­cal gloves, iso­propyl al­co­hol, saline so­lu­tion and flea and tick med­i­ca­tion; toys and treats; blan­kets; a bed for them; a photo of you and your pet to help with iden­ti­fi­ca­tion if you be­come sep­a­rated; and san­i­ta­tion prod­ucts (lit­ter and a box for cats; pa­per tow­els, plas­tic trash bags and chlo­rine bleach).

• Have a crate or car­rier that you can use to safely trans­port your pet, and keep them se­cure should you end up camp­ing out. It should be large enough for the an­i­mal to stand up and turn around in.

• Many shel­ters are un­equipped to ac­cept pets, so iden­tify shel­ters at var­i­ous lo­ca­tions from your home that you can rely on to ac­cept pets. It’s hard to know where you might be evac­u­at­ing to, so cast your net in var­i­ous places. Don’t for­get to look for ho­tels that also ac­cept pets.

• Pre­pare a list of emer­gency vet­eri­nar­ian hospi­tals in the gen­eral Bay Area in case your pet needs care and you can’t get to your reg­u­lar vet.

• If you have farm an­i­mals, you’ll need to scope out places you can take and house them. In the Wine Coun­try fires, county fair­grounds un­af­fected by the blaze have opened up their barns and cor­rals for tem­po­rary shel­ter. You also can look for places that nor­mally board larger an­i­mals, such as pri­vate sta­bles, to see if they would be will­ing to take your an­i­mals in an emer­gency.

• All an­i­mals should have iden­ti­fi­ca­tion mark­ings.

• You’ll most likely need to trans­port your own an­i­mals. Do you have the right equip­ment? If not, con­tact friends who have horse trail­ers and other large ve­hi­cles and make ar­range­ments to use them in an emer­gency.

• If you have to leave farm an­i­mals be­hind, be sure to leave plenty of food, water and bed­ding as it could be sev­eral days be­fore you’ll be al­lowed to re­turn to them.


A wo­man walks a dog out­side the Tubbs fire evac­u­a­tion cen­ter at the Sonoma County Fair­grounds in Santa Rosa.

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