Do you have an animal in your family that actually qualifies as a family member? Do these furry guys (and gals) count at your children? Well…you aren’t alone. 67% of respondents in an ASPCA survey said they would not evacuate their home without their pet(s). There were actually many incidents such as this in Hurricane Katrina. There were many cases discussed in the media about families or persons who would not leave the impending flood waters because they couldn’t take their pets with them. I think the world judge those folks rather harshly from the perspective of what is important to a person is very personal and not really for others to judge. Would I personally stay in this house and risk my life or the lives of my children for our cat, Rodeo? Absolutely not; however, far for me to judge others because they would. Again, it’s really not for me to judge.
What I would like to do is prompt those folks who would not be able to leave home without their fuzzy friends to include them in their emergency preparedness plans. Keep in mind that whatever you need for your pet on a daily basis, you will also need in your go-kit and shelter in place kit. You need to plan ahead for their needs just as you have yours. They will need enough food and water. Consider them in your water storage calculations. Are they taking any medications? You’d be surprised how many people have animals taking prescription medication on a regular basis. (I know someone who had a cat on dialysis – that’s love.) Leash laws are still in effect during a crisis, so be sure and have a leash (dog) or a crate (cat). Also consider vital records (see previous post entitled “Oh yeah…prove it.) for your pets. You should make copies of their shot records and any medical records that you may have. Those should be packed in your go-kits as well.
Lastly, seriously consider what you will do with your pet if you are forced to enter into an emergency shelter. Unless your pet is a service animal, they will not be allowed into the shelter. Imagine forcing the issue and getting them out of your home, just to find that you can’t get them into the shelter. Now what? Do some research on your local pet kennels. See if any have a business continuity plan to continue their operations throughout a crisis. Also check out this link to the American Veterinarian Medical Association for information regarding the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act of 2006. This Act was passed by Congress to mandate that governments allow for needs of households with pets during an emergency.
No matter what, you know where your priorities lie. Plan accordingly.