Natural Disasters

Help Your Pet Survive a Natural Disaster — Sheltering | by Wilson Moreno | Taal Blog | Nov, 2021

Wilson Moreno
A dog in a hazardous environment | Source: Animal Welfare Institute

We have covered identification and disaster kits as components of your pet disaster preparedness plan in previous articles. Let us now discuss sheltering during an emergency.

You may suddenly find yourself in a hazardous environment during a natural disaster. Chemical spills, toxic fumes, fires, rushing waters, high winds and diseases are threats that you and your pet may encounter while dealing with an emergency. Pets are especially vulnerable to abrupt changes in the surroundings. It is important to plan your disaster sheltering far in advance.

What circumstances do you need to consider?

Chemical spills, toxic fumes, fires, rushing waters, high winds and diseases are threats that you and your pet may encounter while dealing with an emergency.

Sheltering in place means staying where you and your pets are when a disaster strikes rather than evacuating. This is the best choice when you and your pets need immediate protection. The American Red Cross recommends “selecting a small, interior room, with no or few windows, and taking refuge there.”

A cat sheltering in place | Source: ASPCA

When sheltering at home with your pets, make the room safe for them. Get rid of toxic substances or poisonous plants. Cover all cramped spaces where a frightened pet could enter and get stuck. Make sure to have toys for your pets to prevent them from becoming agitated.

Sheltering when you need to evacuate is more challenging, so you need to find a safe place for your pets ahead of time. Do not suppose that evacuation sites will allow you to bring your pets.

Evacuating a dog | Source: Pet Friendly Travel

Ask your family or friends if they would be able to shelter you and your pets, or just your pets if circumstances call for it. If you have more than one pet, house them at separate locations.

Sheltering when you need to evacuate is more challenging, so you need to find a safe place for your pets ahead of time.

In cases when you are not home and disaster strikes, ask a neighbor or someone you trust to take your pets and bring them to a specified location where you will be reunited with them.

You can also bring your pets to boarding facilities, animal hospitals, or shelters for temporary housing. Make sure to include their contact information in your pet disaster kits.

Be discerning when making decisions regarding how to shelter your pets. Listen to authorities and do not leave your shelter until there is an official announcement. When local government units ask you to evacuate, do so immediately. Always give priority to your safety and the safety of your pets.

The second to the last article in this series will discuss points on how to keep your pets healthy during a disaster.

References:

Sheltering in Place With Your Dog During an Emergency or Disaster (akc.org)

Pet Safety in Emergencies | Healthy Pets, Healthy People | CDC

Make a disaster plan for your pets | The Humane Society of the United States


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