Emergencies often arise when we least expect them. Remaining calm and knowing what to do when disaster strikes can make all the difference in keeping yourself, your family, and your pets safe from harm. An increasing number of communities now understand the importance of disaster-preparedness and are taking steps to ensure that plans and protocols are in place to keep as many people safe as possible.

Nevertheless, as a loving and responsible pet owner, it is probably not just the human members of your family you will be concerned about, if an emergency situation arose. Leaving pets out of your evacuation plans could put not only your animal, but other people living in your home and even first responders in danger. Therefore, preparing your pet for an emergency should be a priority for every pet owner.

Here are our top tips for pet owners to prepare for an emergency situation.

1. Create an emergency contact list

It is crucial to know who you are going to call in an emergency and ensure that they have access to your home to evacuate your pet if you can’t. Whoever is on your list, run through your emergency plan with them, so they know where to find your pet and supplies, and where they are going to meet you to get your pet later. In some circumstances, it may not be possible to meet your emergency contacts straight away, so you should ensure you pick someone who can and is happy to care for your pet until you can.

Be sure to also include on your contact list your veterinarian hospital and emergency clinic. For each, include phone and address so easily accessible if there is an emergency with your pet. We recommend Airport Animal Emergi-Center when our offices are closed: 5235 W. Washington Street, Indianapolis, IN 46241, (317) 550-4202.

2. Update your pet’s IDs

Many animals become lost during a disaster, but if your pet is microchipped and your details are up to date, the likelihood that your pet will be returned to you is much higher.

In addition to a microchip, it is still handy to have your contact information on a tag on your pets collar, as it may not be possible for whoever finds your pet to get to a vet in an emergency situation.

3. Get supplies ready

Food and water is just as important for your pet during a natural emergency, so fill up a backpack with enough of your pets usual food and enough water to sustain your pet for at least two weeks. This can easily be grabbed in an evacuation, and you won’t have to panic about finding appropriate pet food in a hurry.

In addition to your pets food and water, there are a number of other supplies that you will need, including:

  • Current Medications the pet is on and preventatives
  • Bowls for food and water (the fold-flat variety are ideal)
  • Bathroom supplies (poop bags, litter box etc)
  • Medical records including certificates of vaccination as these may be needed if your pet has to go into a boarding facility
  • Spare leash/harness
  • Carrier complete with blankets
  • Favorite toy

It can also be very useful to have a handout with important information about your pet should your pet need to go into boarding until accommodation with you can be sorted out, as well as details of your pets microchip number, and a current photograph of your pet should you become separated and need to find your pet.

4. Plan where to go

Unfortunately, not all types of emergency accommodation will accept all types of pet, so it is important that you know what your options are in regard to shelter. Speak to your local emergency management office and ask if there is accommodation for pets and their owners. If necessary, also speak to your veterinarian to find out where local animal shelters are that may be able to take your pet in an emergency.

It can also be useful to consider friends and family living outside the evacuation zone to see if they would be able to accommodate you and your pet should an emergency scenario arise.

Your pets deserve the best veterinary care possible