Disasters such as fire, severe weather and even terrorist attacks can occur at any time with little warning. The City of St. John's encourages its residents to have a plan in place for their furry friends. In the event of possible evacuation, proper preparation will help ensure the safety of your pets.
To Protect My Pets BEFORE a Disaster?
A disaster can hit your area with or without notice, that's why it is very important for a family to be prepared in case such an event should occur. The best preparation is a family household disaster plan, and this plan should include your pets.
There are several things a family should do before a disaster approaches to better prepare for the care of their pets:
- Contact your veterinarian, local animal shelter, or humane society for information on caring for pets in an emergency. Find out if there are any shelters set up to take pets in an emergency, but keep in mind that shelters are usually full even without a disaster so any space would be very limited.
- If you decide to take your pet with you, have a carrier that allows your pet to stand up and turn around inside. Feed the pet in the carrier and put familiar items such as the pet's normal bedding and favorite toys inside. Train your pets to become comfortable with the carrier beforehand by using it as its “room”.
- Keep a list of hotels that will accept pets, and be sure to ask if there are any size restrictions.
- When assembling emergency supplies for the household, include items for pets such as extra food, kitty litter, bowls, and extra medication.
- Pets should have their vaccines current, and vaccination records kept in a plastic, sealable bag.
- Make sure the pet has a properly fitted collar or harness that includes current license, identification and rabies tags. If your pet gets separated from you, proper identification may be its only way home. Microchips are also a good way for your pet to be identified, but not every shelter and clinic has access to a microchip scanner, and not all scanners read all chips.
- During a disaster bring your pets inside immediately. Animals have instincts about severe weather changes and may isolate themselves or try to escape, especially if they are afraid. Never leave a pet outside or tied up during a storm. You may need to separate dogs and cats, because even if your pets normally get along, the anxiety of an emergency situation can cause pets to act unreasonably.
- If you decide to evacuate during a disaster, plan to take your pets with you. Do not leave your pet at home during a disaster because you never know what will happen when you are gone, or when you will be able to get back. If you are not at home, prearrange for a neighbor to remove your pets and bring them to a designated location.
- Remember to take your pet's medical records and medicines with your emergency supplies.
- If you have a bird, make sure the bird is caged and you have a thin cloth or sheet to cover the cage. The stress of moving and the anxiety of the disaster may stress the bird and being in a covered cage may help alleviate some of this.
- Not all evacuation facilities will accept animals, so it would be better for you to evacuate early with your pet to a previously identified safe location. If you wait until it is too late and have to be evacuated, emergency personnel may not allow you to bring your animal.
- Listen for public service announcements regarding pets.
- If evacuation is not immediately necessary make sure you keep your pets inside and that your disaster travel kit is ready.
- In the event of storms your pet can become disoriented even in familiar territory.
Just because a disaster has passed, do not assume that the worst is over. Do not let your pets loose in the house or yard until you have had the chance to examine everything very carefully. It is possible, especially with flooding, that there may be damage to your home which could hurt you or your pet. Carefully walk the yard to verify the fence is intact and there is nothing new and dangerous in the yard.
If your pet was placed in a shelter or boarding facility, contact them as soon as possible to verify your pet is fine and let them know when you will be able to come get them.
If your pet is lost during a disaster, check with the City of St. John's Humane Services at 311 and the SPCA at 726-0301.
Don't be surprised if your pet is more anxious or fearful after a disaster. Familiar scents and landmarks may look different and your pet may become confused and lost. Normally quiet and friendly pets may become defensive and aggressive. It's very important to observe your pets closely after a disaster and, if necessary, give them extra attention. They won't understand everything that just happened, and will look to you to provide some stability and comfort.
Watch your pets closely for the following symptoms:
- Refusal to eat or drink
- Rectal temperature over normal of 105°F
If your pet exhibits these symptoms for more than 48 hours please contact your veterinarian.
Disaster Travel Kit
What to include in your disaster travel kit:
3 Day Supply
- Pet carrier
- Pet food
- Can opener
- Bottled water
- Collar, leash
- Litter pan, scoop
- Pooper scoop bags
- Blankets & toys
- First Aid Kit
- City I/D tag should be on your pets collar
- Copies of vaccinations, vets phone number, pets photo, microchip or tattoo number
- Medications and instructions
- Paper towels and disinfectant
For additional information please visit Access 311
Where 311 is unavailable, call 709-754-CITY (2489)
Call Humane Services 576-6126
Monday-Friday Noon – 4 PM, Sat-Sun 3-5 PM