Natural disasters can strike at anytime. Recent tragedies, specifically the deadly tornadoes in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Joplin, Mo., have turned the lives of residents and their families upside down.
One Joplin, Mo., couple’s home was destroyed while their dog was home alone. They found their puppy, Saint, the next day completely unharmed and protected by his hard-shelled Petmate kennel. See the video here: http://inthearena.blogs.cnn.com/2011/05/25/joplin-couple-oh-my-god-hes-alive.
In addition to being a great training tool, a kennel is a safe place for dogs, providing a comfortable, secure place to retreat and rest. Known for creating high quality kennels, Petmate offers a variety of sizes and styles to suit any pup, regardless of size or breed. Each kennel comes complete with instructions on kennel training to ensure a pet remains safe, especially in dangerous situations.
In response to the tornadoes, Petmate has reached out to local shelters in Alabama and Missouri to help the pets in these affected areas. For shelters in Alabama, Petmate donated 20 large dog homes as well as pet food and money raised through a company benefit luncheon. For shelters in Missouri, Petmate is currently coordinating a donation of kennels and dog houses.
Because of the unpredictability of natural disasters, having a plan in place to keep our four-legged family members safe remains vitally important. If a situation is dangerous for humans, it is dangerous for animals, and Petmate has compiled tips on how to prepare for a natural disaster and what to do if one hits.
Preparing for Natural Disasters
First and foremost, be prepared to take your pets with you. Just like children, they depend on us for their survival. It could be weeks after a natural disaster strikes before you are able to return home.
• Make sure that your pets are current on their vaccinations. Animal shelters and kennels typically require proof of vaccines.
• Put a sticker on the door or a main window of your home that lists the number and kinds of animals you have in case you are not home when an evacuation is necessary. These stickers are available at most pet stores. You can have an additional sheet of information (folded into a Ziploc and taped to the door) telling the rescuers how to handle them, where the kennels and survival kits are located, special needs, and your contact information. However, if you do leave with your pets please put a large note on the door stating that you have evacuated and have all of your animals.
• Have a current photograph of your pet, and keep it with you for identification purposes.
• Microchip identification is always helpful for everyone involved. Please keep your animal’s microchip information in their evacuation file. Yes, even birds can be microchipped.
• Official shelters do not allow pets. In the event of evacuation and you cannot find a pet-friendly hotel (they fill up very quickly, another good reason to evacuate early), make other arrangements for pets if you cannot all stay together, such as with family, friends, veterinarians, or kennels in safe locations.
• If you plan to board your pet, work this into your evacuation route planning.
• Create and keep an updated list of emergency telephone numbers. Include your veterinarian, local animal control, local animal shelters, the Red Cross, and any other individual or group you might need to contact during the disaster.
• Prepare a survival kit for each pet.
Natural Disaster Survival Kit for Your Pet
As part of your preparation, put together a survival kit for your pet that you can grab in case of immediate evacuation. While all kits will be as unique as your animal, here are some basic items you will need:
• A properly sized pet carrier for each animal a hard-shelled kennel or carrier just large enough for your pet to stand up, turn around and lie down comfortably. If they don’t normally use a kennel or carrier, help your pet adjust to it before there is an emergency evacuation by placing them in the carrier along with a treat or toy. Start with short periods of time; then slowly increase the time.
• A collar, leash and harness to control your pet during all of the excitement. A seatbelt is also recommended.
• Three-week supply of food (moist or canned to help preserve water) with manual can opener. Be sure the food is one they are used to, in order to avoid a potential upset tummy.
• Water and food dishes
• Cat litter and litter box
• Toys and treats
• Emergency phone numbers for veterinarian, animal shelters and friends/relatives
• Veterinary records with rabies certificate and current license tag number
• Medications with instructions
• Cleaning supplies (newspaper, plastic bags with ties, paper towels, disinfectant)
• Current Identification Tags
Store the items in waterproof containers that are easy to transport and won’t easily tear or break. Do NOT use plastic or paper bags or pillow cases; they will get wet and therefore damage the items.
“Practice the evacuation routine and drive around the block a few times, so the actual event doesn’t seem harried. Familiar routines help the animals stay calm and give the people a sense of control. When emotions are running high, you need to remain calm both for yourself and for those around you. Energy feeds into your animals and if you are panicking, they are more likely to panic. Set everyone up for success and run drills just like they do in schools,” says Tenderfoot Training.
If a Natural Disaster Hits Your Home
If a natural disaster hits your home, and you’re allowed to remain in the home through the storm, immediately bring all of your pets indoors. Keep your pets close to you and within sight since the noise of the storm can be very frightening and unsettling to them. Going into a basement or bathroom (with no windows) can help protect everyone from the storm and keep things calmer.
If they appear anxious, do not give them sedatives or tranquilizers; they need their survival instincts. Calmly stroking your pet can help to keep them calm, and actually has benefits for you as well. Use a calm and confident tone when speaking to your pet, because a calm, confident leader will have a calm, confident animal.
Keep an ample supply of newspapers inside for their sanitary needs. If possible, feed your pets moist or canned food to help keep them hydrated and save precious water. If you need to evacuate, get out as soon as you can and make sure you have your pet’s survival kit with you.
After the Storm
After the storm passes, use extreme caution allowing your pets outdoors. Make sure dogs are leashed and keep cats in a carrier. Walk your dog on a leash until they become re-oriented to their home since familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and they can be easily confused and become lost. After a disaster, keep a close eye on their behavior. Like you, they have been rattled and it’s possible they may become aggressive or defensive. Give them lots of love.
Your pets should not consume food or water that may have become contaminated. A good rule of thumb: if you won’t drink it, your pet shouldn’t either.
City officials, police officers and citizens will bring many lost cats and dogs to shelters after the hurricane. If your pet has identification such as a license tag or microchip, the Humane Society or Animal Care will call you if the phones are operating. If your pet has no identification or you cannot be reached, you will need to visit the shelters.
Information provided by Petmate www.petmate.com