Emergency Preparedness for the Pet Owner

Emergency Preparedness for the Pet Owner

Having the pleasure of living in Colorado a lot of us let our guard down when it comes to natural disasters. Being a landlocked state we have little worry of hurricanes and floods but we do get the occasional tornado, and contrary to what you may see on those famous beer commercials, Denver gets little snow and a blizzard is not a common occurrence. All that said we do need to be prepared for natural disasters because they can happen and we all know about Mister Murphy and his laws right?

At Denver Dog Works I teach a course for people on how to become certified canine obedience instructors and one of the projects is to design a boarding kennel plan. A section of that project is emergency preparedness. Inevitably most students overlook this and this is a major portion of the projects grade. Would you want your pets to stay at a kennel without an emergency plan? I doubt it. In this article I will talk about emergency planning for your home with regards to your pets, but please do not hesitate to ask the boarding facility where you board your pets what theirs is as well. Remember, as the Boy Scouts say: ” Always Prepared.”

In areas of the country where natural emergencies often occur, it is likely the pet owner has an emergency kit ready for pet evacuation. There are many pet owners, however, who have never put together an emergency kit for their pet..

The number one emergency in households is a fire. Weather also causes many emergencies, from power outages to severe damage from wind or water. Owners are sometimes forced to leave the premises during these types of events. In addition to grabbing important things for the human members of the family, a pet care package should be handy and available on short notice as well.

Keep this kit stocked at all times, and have it in an easily accessible place. Stock it with basic items for pet care:

• Dry and/or canned food, dishes and water – for canned food, don’t forget to include

a manual can opener.

• A collar or harness and leash for a dog or small cat carrier (even a pillow case or soft-sided travel bag will work to control a cat temporarily).

• Cat litter box (even a low cardboard box can be used temporarily) and cat litter.

• Towels or other comfortable bedding.

• Veterinary and health records, including recent vaccine records.

• Recent pictures of your pets in case they become lost or escape.

• A first-aid kit.

• Any medications the pet may be on, or a written prescription that can be filled at a


• A list of pertinent telephone numbers: the veterinary hospital, local shelters or animal

control officers, boarding and daycare facilities, or other important pet numbers you

use. Consider identifying which local hotels will accept pets if necessary.

• Toys or rawhide chews to keep the pet occupied.

• Plastic bags and paper towels for an emergency clean-up.

Place these items in a plastic carrying container and label it “Pet Emergency Kit.” Hopefully you will never need it, but if a disaster forces you to leave quickly, the basic supplies to keep the four-legged family member happy and safe will be ready.

Please be aware that most shelters operated by the America Red Cross and other organizations cannot take in pets, especially in the middle of a natural disaster. It is a sad truth that you will be turned away if you show up with your pets. While Hurricane Katrina taught us many things about natural disasters, we were slow to respond to the needs of our furry companions. I have seen and heard the horror stories of pets being left alone to die in flooded homes because their owners fled for their lives. Many others were picked up by rescue groups never to be reunited with their owners because the owners lost everything including their personal identification. Many other pets were placed in shelters throughout the country to be adopted out, and would you believe that we are still seeing dogs come into Denver Dog Works for training that were part of the Katrina tragedy?

It isn’t a bad idea to give a few kennels in neighboring counties your information and have the opportunity available to board your dog safely during disasters.

As you know Americans spend millions, if not billions of dollars on their pets each year, all that I ask is that you take a little extra time, and a few extra dollars, and plan for the safety of your pet in case of an emergency.

If you have any questions about this topic or any other please give us a call anytime and we would be happy to help you. Our phone number is 303-578-9881

Citation: ABKA


Michele Forto is the Denver Dog Training Examiner, a certified canine trainer at Denver Dog Works and the co-host of the Dog Doctor Radio Show

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