FEMA has designated May 12, 2018 as National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day (NADPD). Is your pet prepared? Meaning, do you have a plan for your pet in the event of an emergency? If you need to evacuate, please, please, please. DO NOT leave your pet behind.
It’s difficult to admit, but September 2017’s Hurricane Irma was tough. Things could’ve been a whole lot worse in my world. I mean, I barely had any physical damage to my dwelling, in fact, I only lost a palm frond and my rogue bougainvillea took a beating. Other than that, all was well. What I did experience was anxiety of the storm while trying to keep cool because I was working in the emergency operations center for the County, preparation, and doing it alone. Honestly, it was stressful. Thankfully, I didn’t go through the actual event alone.
Indirectly, Hurricane Irma caused my broken ankle. Directly, and even though it’s been eight months, I get upset thinking about Hurricane Irma. My home is still in disarray from packing things up in less than 12 hours before evacuating. For various reasons, I haven’t had time to put things back in order and try not to let it bother me that I’m living in what feels like a flipped, unsettled environment. I’m still amazed how much I was able to do in a short period of time, yet, after all these months, can’t put it all together.
Working in the emergency operations center and being told to prepare for a direct hit was alarming. Then being told to be prepared to be self-sufficient for up to two weeks because it could take that long for rescue and recovery teams to reach our area (because our population is smaller than other areas in the path) was unsettling and frightening. Images of The Walking Dead flashed through my mind.
With work and having little time to prepare my home, I forgot some things in my pet emergency go-kit. I pride myself in doing the right thing and I was caught up in helping others that I didn’t properly prepare for myself or my pets. I dropped the ball.
May 12, 2018 is National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day (NADPD), a day designated by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) to strongly encourage pet-parents to make a plan for their pets in the event of an emergency. With hurricane season around the corner (June 1), I am certainly putting my pet emergency go-kit together along with a kit for me (I had a heck of a time finding batteries and went 6 days without electric or water last year.)
I want to emphasize a disaster can happen anywhere at any time. Hurricanes give us advanced notice but where I live, I can easily be affected by a late-night tornado or wildfire (which I’m more concerned about because I live among empty lots full of overgrown vegetation). While writing this, I’m half-listening to the news about Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano eruption and the associated evacuations.
I attended the BlogPaws pet blogging conference in Kansas City last month and learned how Hill’s Pet Nutrition is taking the lead in raising awareness about National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day. To help pet-parents, they have put together a list of key items to consider when putting a kit together.
Build Your Pet Emergency Go-Kit
Items should include:
- Basic first aid supplies.
- A three-day supply of bottled water and the pet’s preferred food in a waterproof container (I use quart-sized plastic zipper bags since I have them handy for my air travel.)
- Safety harness and leash.
Waste clean-up supplies. (For me, it’s paper towels, disinfectant wipes, disinfectant spray, plastic bags, and disposable gloves. It’s also useful to have a stain and odor remover with you in case your pet has an accident. Try Ecos for Pets! )
- 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 (um, Radcliff has some.)
- Comfort items, such as a blanket or favorite toy, to help keep the pet calm and comfortable.
To this recommended list, I’m including:
- Proof of pet registration and vaccination with my County.
- Physical photos of your pets.
- Disposable cat litter boxes.
- Weruva Pumpkin Patch Up! (I give Radcliff pumpkin with his meals because it firms up his stool which is loose because of this medication. I typically give him canned pumpkin put if I don’t have access to refrigeration, these individual packets are perfect.
- Calming essential oils – I have a preferred brand of essential oils I use and lavender has been calming for my pets and an oil my veterinarian recommends. There are several natural calming sprays and oils on the market and one I have used and seems to be effective is Calm Bedding Mist by Gentle Friends. Calming oils – for use in the car, during disaster, in safe area/new environment.
- Comfort Zone Calming Vest for Radcliff.
- Cat litter (for the cats and in extreme situations, for myself to create a chemical toilet with a bucket. Last year I was lucky to have access to water from the office tap and from reclaiming rain water so I could flush my toilet)
- Dog Potty Pads (we were on lockdown and could not leave the home we were staying and Radcliff didn’t understand; he barked and barked to go outside. It wasn’t until I put newspaper on the garage floor did he understand he needed to do his business inside. Dog potty pads should help.)
- Pet’s prescription medication (and accompanying pill pockets).
- List of what, how much, and when your pets eat and when they take their medications.
Remember, if your pets are microchipped, make sure the information is up to date.
Disposable items are so important. I like to be a good steward of the environment, recycle when possible and minimize my waste as much as possible but during times of emergencies, access to clean water and/or electricity (to keep things cool) may not be possible. Having disposable items and disposing of them can help eliminate illness and keep your immediate environment healthy in the event your home is impacted by a disaster.
Remember to Pack Your Pet’s Food in Your Pet Emergency Go-Kit.
Hill’s Pet Nutrition is There in Times of Need
During 2017 NADPD, Hill’s employees created 5,000 pet emergency go-kits and donated them to shelter partners in disaster-prone areas across the country. I don’t know if any were distributed in Florida but according to Hill’s, they were handed out to pet evacuating pet families in Houston following Hurricane Harvey.
I have learned the company has the Hill’s Disaster Relief Network which responds following devastating disasters to supply free pet food to families in need. This is a one-of-a-kind network and since its inception in 2013, it “has delivered over 280,000 pounds of free food to nearly 300 organizations across the country in response to more than 70 disasters, including floods, tornadoes, mudslides and the devastating hurricanes and wildfires last year.” (Source: Hill’s Pet Nutrition)
Hill’s Disaster Relief Network was established “as an extension of the Hill’s Food, Shelter & Love® program which has provided more than $290 million worth of Hill’s® pet foods to more than 1,000 shelters in North America over the last 16 years,” according to Hill’s Pet Nutrition. Learning about how much good they do makes me so happy I feed Hill’s Science Diet to my cats.
Visit HillsPet.com/PetPrepared to download your own pet emergency go-kit checklist and tips for keeping your pets safe during an emergency. You’ll also find additional resources for disaster preparedness.
Whether you have a pet or not, have a plan in the event of a disaster. Think about sheltering in place or if you need to evacuate, where would you go?
We are never physically and emotionally prepared for a disaster but the more preparedness thought and planning we have the easier it will be to function, survive and move forward following the aftermath.