In times of crisis, pets are often separated from their families and left to fend for themselves. During natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods, people are often told to leave their homes for a “short time,” only to find that they cannot return for days or even weeks. As a result, community animal shelters are overwhelmed with lost and separated cats and dogs in the wake of these events.
In recognition of National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day on May 14, the Connecticut Humane Society and Hill’s Pet Nutrition are partnering to encourage pet owners to consider their pets in emergency planning.
In 2010, to help alleviate this burden, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) designated the second Saturday in May as National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day, to help pet families focus on the importance of having a family disaster plan that also includes their pets.
“The best thing a family can do in the case of an emergency is be prepared, and that includes having a plan in place for your pets,” said Arnaud Brel, director of Hill’s Pet Nutrition Food, Shelter & Love program. “We hope that families take into account some simple steps that will help them feel ready should disaster strike so they do not have to leave their pets behind.”
The annual campaign is aimed at educating pet families on ways that they can stay safer and be better prepared to survive a disaster.
“You never know when a disaster might strike so taking the time now to put an emergency plan in place, and having a bag packed and ready to go, can cut down on the stress often associated with an emergency,” said Gordon Willard, CHS executive director. “The more prepared you are, the faster you can move the whole family to safety.”
“It’s a great idea to put together pet emergency kit and store it with the rest of the family’s emergency preparations,” added Willard.
Items to include in the kit can include:
- Basic first aid supplies
- A three-day supply of bottled water and the pet’s preferred food, held in a waterproof container
- Safety harness and leash
- Waste clean-up supplies
- Medications and a copy of the pet’s medical records
- List of veterinarians and local pet care organizations
- List of the pet’s feeding routine and any behavioral issues
- Comfort items, such as a blanket or favorite toy, to help keep the pet calm and comfortable
Hill’s also recommends the following Tips to Help Ensure Your Pet’s Safety in an Emergency:
- Ensure your pet’s identification by using a microchip or collar ID tag, and make sure that your contact information is up-to-date.
- Display a pet rescue decal on your front door or window to let first responders know there is a pet in the house. Include your veterinarian’s contact information.
- Learn where your pet likes to hide in your house when frightened. Finding your pet quickly will help you evacuate faster.
- Identify a location to take your pet if you need to leave your immediate area. Keep in mind that disaster shelters for people may not be open to pets. Scout hotels and motels with pet-friendly policies and ask relatives or friends if they could house you and your pet.
- Carry a picture of your pet in the event of separation.
- If you need to evacuate, consider taking a pet carrier or crate for transport and safe-keeping.
Hill’s Disaster Relief Network: In the event of an emergency, the Hill’s Disaster Relief Network is positioned to quickly respond and aid impacted areas by supplying pet food to communities hit by disasters. The first-of-its-kind network was established in 2013 as an extension of the Hill’s Food, Shelter & Love® program. Hill’s Food, Shelter & Love® has donated more than $280 million worth of Hill’s® Science Diet® brand pet foods to over 1,000 shelters in the United States and helped more than 8 million pets find new homes.
Families looking to learn more about disaster preparedness and safety, as well as the Hill’s Disaster Relief Network, can visit HillsPet.com/PetPrepared.