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When Disasters Strike: Do You Know What to Do?

Updated: Sep 12, 2020

Besides dog training I am also a certified instructor for basic and wilderness pet cpr/first aid. To become certified I had to go through FEMA training (these are free classes that I feel are valuable even if you don't have to take them for some reason). We never want to think it will happen to us, but when a dear friend of mine came very close to losing everything in the recent Australian fires it gave me pause and compelled me to write this post to hopefully make you think about it and put a plan together.

There are some major concerns where animals come into play during disasters. Animals biting strangers who either are or aren't trying to help them, spread of diseases, loss of access to veterinary care, food spoilage and contamination of water, as well as human and animal mental health. It is inevitably up to you and your family to take care of your pets in a disaster. Here are some tips to do just that.

Do you have a "bug out" kit for your family? No? I'd highly suggest making one! And in it add provisions for your pets as well. At the start of each quarter (Jan, April, July, October) get in the habit of checking your kit and rotating any foods that are not in a sealed, never opened container. Make sure no pests have gotten into your kit and that it is still fully stocked in working order. You should have enough food for you AND you pet to have 3 full days during an evacuation and 2 weeks to shelter in place. Water for you and your pet. Bowls, paper towels (I prefer the blue shop towels), poop bags, spray disinfectant (I like odorban), extra collars WITH TAGS, extra harness and leash, a copy of your pets vaccine history/health info (again check this every quarter to make sure it is still accurate), a 2 week supply of your pets medication with a copy of the prescription, a recent photo of you and your pet, and a first aid kit. What you store these things in will depend on your regions disasters. Here in the northwest we can get lots of flooding, so our supplies are in smaller water tight containers in a duffel bag. You should also have 1 crate per dog in your household. Even if you don't plan to crate your dog in daily life it is an important skill to teach them none the less. They will be much safer in a crate (preferably a sturdy, impact rated one like our Ruff Land crates) and you can attach your name, number, pets name, and address to it.

It can also help to organize a phone tree in your area. You call two people, they each call two people etc. Make sure the people you are responsible to call know if you have animals or you know if they do. Try and know specifics (type of animals, how many, breeds, ages, medical conditions) as this can aid first responders in their efforts to help that person should they need it. You need to have three plans in place; one for sheltering in place, one for evacuation, and one for animals left behind. Yes, I said it. Maybe you can't get your farm animals evacuated, you must plan for how to get them back. Painting your number on them can help, or having a halter with your name and number. It is your responsibility to have a way to evacuate your pets with you. There is no excuse to not have a plan in place before a disaster strikes. If you have any questions you can reach out to us, or contact your local fire department and they can give you great advice. Stay safe out there!

For the Dogs,

Christina, DTFC

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