/When Disaster Strikes
Photo by Marcin Kargol under a creative commons license.

When Disaster Strikes

Catastrophic, afflictions can occur at any given moment without warning.  Earthquakes, floods, tornados, landslides and other disasters happen without notice. How do you protect your loved ones if they have four legs?

FEMA’s website www.fema.gov has information on how to prepare for emergencies when you have pets. FEMA recommends having a emergency kit for your pets included in the family kit.

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) suggests the following items in your pets’ emergency kit:

  • Pet harness and leash.
  • Bottled Water
  • Food- both canned and dry
  • Food bowls
  • Pet carrier
  • Cat owners keep a small pan and bag of litter with emergency supplies
  • Keep a photo of your pet companion at all times, attaching extra copies to your pet carrier.
  • Towels or old blankets to cover and calm a frightened pet.
  • Make sure your pets are wearing collars, with tags indentifying them and you in event you become separated.
  • Keep a list of hotels that accept companion animals in your emergency kit.

    Photo by Marcin Kargol under a creative commons license.
    Photo by Marcin Kargol under a creative commons license.

PETA also suggests, in the event authorities force you to leave without your pets, never to turn them loose.

Leave out a ten-day supply of water, filling every container possible including sinks if necessary. Also leave out only dry food, as canned food will go bad.

Some shelters do not allow pets, so it is important to have a backup plan. Developing a “buddy” pet care system is one alternative offered by FEMA. Make plans with neighbors, friends or relatives to care for your pet in event you cannot.

According to the American Red Cross, after the distress caused pet owners during Hurricane Katrina in 2006, Congress passed the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act requiring state and local government to incorporate pets and service animals as part of disaster planning.

Michigan State University’s animal legal and historical center states a significant number of people will put their lives in danger to save pets. The center explained when given a choice, people will choose to remain with their pets even at the risk of their own lives.

With the passing of this law, FEMA can now provide rescue, care, shelter, and essential needs for families with household pets and service animals. According to the American Veterinarian Association, this law means providing shelter to the pets as well as their owners following a major disaster or emergency.

For further information on what you can do to protect your pets in a disaster, visit the American Red Cross web site on animal safety, or the United Animal Nation (www.uan.org) a: 1-800-440-3277.

Twana Pinskey