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Emergency Preparedness: Creating a Disaster Plan for Your Pet

This post is sponsored by TailTrax, an innovative app for pet parents that allows you to store all of your pet’s most important information to access anytime, anywhere. All opinions are my own and I think TailTrax rules.

With the rise in natural disasters due to climate change, like hurricanes, floods, and wildfires, it’s becoming more and more important to have a disaster plan for your pet, as well as yourself.

In 2020, a friend of mine was evacuated from her town in Southern Oregon during a wildfire and they barely had time to think about what they needed to grab. Fortunately, they gathered their two dogs and cat before having to leave.

They lost their house and just about everything else they owned. It was devastating.

Since I live in Portland, wildfires are prevalent during the summer months and we could be called to evacuate at any moment. It’s stressful, and having a disaster plan will reduce the anxiety associated with having to leave home, while ensuring that both Sitka and I are prepared.

Know what Kind of Disasters Could Happen in your Geographic Region

Whether you have lived somewhere for years or recently moved to a new location, or you’re just visiting, knowing what kind of natural disasters occur in a specific environment will help you plan for any potential disaster.

The Red Cross has a great map indicating what natural disasters are most common by geographic location.

Once you’re aware of the potential disasters, the next step is to know what to do in the event they occur. 

Make these Part of a Disaster Plan for your Pet

Planning, preparation, practice, and clear communication will go a long way in the event of an emergency. You want to have the plan memorized so that you don’t even have to think about what to do.

The following suggestions are part of my own personal disaster plan.

Use TailTrax to Keep Track of Your Pet’s Records

In addition to keeping paper copies of your pet’s medical records, consider using an app like TailTrax to store all of their information. 

The app allows pet owners to store and easily access their pet’s medical records, connect to a 24/7 veterinary helpline, find qualified veterinarians across the country, and nearby services, like groomers and pet sitters.

Documents to include:

  • Rabies certificate
  • Vaccination records
  • Medical summaries
  • Medical prescriptions and dosages
  • Registration information
  • Microchip number
  • Photos
  • Detailed description of your pet
  • Your contact information

Crate Train Your Dog

I can’t stress how important it is for your dog to be comfortable in a crate for long periods of time. Crate training your dog is an essential life skill that will come in handy for various reasons throughout their life, including keeping them safe in the event of a natural disaster.

Why would you need a crate in a natural disaster?

  • In case you need to board your dog at a vet or boarding facility
  • To keep them contained and prevent them from running away in the chaos or in an unfamiliar area
  • For easier transportation

If you use a crate for car travel, then your job is that much easier. You can just leash and load your dog directly into the car.

An emergency is not the time to test how your dog will do in a crate. Your stress levels will be at peak, and therefore so will theirs. The kennel needs to be a safe and comfortable space for your dog that they are already familiar with prior to the emergency.

It’s not a bad idea to attach a metal plate or laminated card to the crate with your dog’s name, your name and your contact information. This way, if you do have to leave your dog somewhere separate from you or you are in a car accident, emergency crews will know how to get in touch with you.

Emergency Supplies

Just as you should have emergency supply storage for yourself, you’ll also want to create one for your dog.

Your dog’s emergency kit should include the following:

I personally keep everything stored in a bin with a lid so that I can just grab it and go without having to think. It’s right next to my camping gear bin, which is considered part of my emergency supplies in case I can’t find anywhere to stay the night and I need to camp or sleep in my car. 

I also always keep water and a food bowl, towels, a dog jacket, blanket, and an extra leash in the car.

Lastly, keep leashes and collars with current ID tags by the front door so you can locate them easily.

Plan a Safe Location Ahead of Time

If you have to leave your house at a moment’s notice, then you won’t have time to consider where you’re going. Planning a location ahead of time will save you stress and headache.

In an emergency disaster situation, hotels nearby will likely be full. Some states may have emergency shelters, so know where those are located, keeping in mind that they may not allow pets.

Alternative options include:

  • Pet-friendly hotels
  • Friends
  • Camping
  • Veterinary clinics
  • Boarding facilities
  • Animal shelters
  • Dog Training facilities

Make Arrangements with a Trusted Friend for Your Dog

Ask a trusted neighbor or nearby friend to get your pet in the event that you are not home during the evacuation and leave detailed instructions with them to care for your pet until you return home.

Leave them with your key and show them where all of your emergency supplies and leashes are. Show them where your dog’s crate is located so they can locate your dog and the crate on their way out.

Don’t Wait for an Evacuation Order

If you know that a natural disaster is on its way, check in frequently with the news or an emergency alert app like the Emergency App from the Red Cross to keep apprised of how close the event is to your region. 

The longer you wait, the more stressful it will be, and the more likely that you will wind up in a traffic jam trying to beat the disaster.

When in doubt, just leave, if you have the ability.

A few tips for preparing as the disaster nears:

  • Keep your gas tank at least half full
  • Gather any important items in advance that you’ll want to take along if you have the chance and space
  • Pack an overnight bag with clothing and toiletries in advance
  • Map out primary and alternative routes and make sure you have an offline map, like Maps.me in case service is down.
  • Create a home inventory to speed insurance claims

Have you created a disaster plan for your pet?

What tips would you add to this pet disaster plan?

Emergency Preparedness: Creating a Disaster Plan for Your Pet
Jen Sotolongo

Hello! I'm Jen. I'm a writer, photographer, dog mom, and outdoor enthusiast. When I'm not writing about awesome ways to get outside with your dog, I'm probably out for a long trail run. I also fancy myself a pretty decent vegan cook, and am always happy to whip up a batch of cookies for friends. I am based in the Pacific Northwest and I never leave home without my dogs.

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