Pet Disaster Preparedness Information
The Southern California region is especially prone to earthquakes and wildfires. Pet owners need to have an emergency plan in place, so they are prepared. Below are our top tips and facts to help you and your animals be ready.
Evacuation shelters generally don’t accept pets and for this reason it’s important to plan ahead to ensure that your pets and family will have a safe place to stay. County information sources such as ReadySanDiego.org and ListoSanDiego.org (Spanish) can help. Research hotels and motels outside your immediate area for pet policies and ask friends and relatives outside the area if you and your pets can stay with them in case of a disaster. Ask your local animal shelters and veterinary boarding facilities if they will board or shelter pets in an emergency (however, this should be a last resort as these facilities are likely to be stretched to their limits during a disaster). Be sure you have enough crates to move all of your pets at the same time. Being disaster safe also means training your animals to enter crates quickly and without stress. Practice often and make the experience as positive as possible.
Make sure your pets are wearing proper identification at all times; this includes animals who don’t normally go outside. Dogs in San Diego County require a license, while cats should have engraved tags for safety. Having your pet microchipped can further protect your pet and help identify them if they were to become lost. Make sure that you not only keep your address and phone number up to date, but also include an emergency contact outside of your immediate area.
Leave Early and Take Your Pets:
One of the most important things to do if you are evacuating your home is to take your pets with you, because you may be forced to stay away longer than anticipated. Pets cannot fend for themselves during disasters and leaving them behind can risk both their lives and those of rescuers. Leave early and don’t wait for mandatory evacuation orders. Also, your pets will be less stressed if they are with you when evacuated versus a rescuer they don’t know going in later to get them.
In Case You’re Away:
A disaster may strike or an order to evacuate may come when you’re away from home. Make arrangements in advance with a trusted neighbor (who is comfortable with your pets and knows where in the home they are likely to be) to take them and meet you at a specified location.
Plan for Large Animals:
Ideally, have enough trailers or travel containers available for all of these animals. Work with your animals in advance to be sure they are used to being loaded and unloaded from their trailers or travel containers. If possible, make arrangements with boarding facilities or a friend with a ranch in a different area to take in your large animals in the event of a disaster. If you can’t move all your animals at once, work with neighbors to identify locations where large animals can be brought to on foot (large open areas during fires). If humans are forced to evacuate from such places, notify local authorities so the animals can be protected if at all possible. The police entities charged with enforcing road closures will not allow you to come back into a closed neighborhood, even for your own animals.
Register with Finding Rover:
Register your dog or cat for free with Finding Rover, an app that uses facial recognition to reunite lost pets with their owners. Your smartphone is also a good place to keep photos of your pets.
Learn Pet First-Aid:
The last thing you want is to be frazzled if your pet is injured. Spare yourself (and your pet) the panic, by familiarizing yourself with what to do should your pet ever become injured.
Know Your Vet:
Locate a veterinarian or animal hospital in the area where you may be seeking temporary shelter, in case your pet needs medical care. Also, be sure to add the contact information to your emergency kit.
Prepare a Pet Emergency Kit:
Items needed for a San Diego pet emergency kit.
In Case of Illness
Create a care tree for how your pets will be cared for should you become sick or hospitalized. Unlike a typical emergency, you need to have two to four backup plans as well!
- Reach out to friends, family, neighbors and pet-sitters who can care for your pets, if needed.
- Have two to four options lined up in case they become sick or hospitalized. Animal shelters are not the best option for your pets during a pandemic like COVID-19. They need the space to care for lost, injured or abandoned pets and they aren’t equipped to provide long-term care.
- Be sure to keep at least a two-week supply of pet food and water for your pets, as well as any medications they may need and a travel crate.
- Create a written emergency plan for each of your pets. Include your name and contact information, your pet’s feeding schedule, any medical conditions and treatment instructions. Document whether your pet is up to date on vaccinations, and list the contact information for your veterinarian. Lastly, provide three backup options of family or friends who can care for your pets, if needed.
Here are links to where you can find up-to-date information during an emergency:
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Published: September 1, 2020