Our pets these days are like members of the family and too many people in Oklahoma and the nation have experienced everything from very heavy rains to hail, tornadoes and just plain strong winds that have impacted them.
Though most of us feel being prepared for these devastating weather episodes is important, only a few take the time to actually do so. Of course, the key to survival for both us and our pets during a disaster is to be prepared.
Put together an emergency preparedness kit for everyone in the family, including all pets. The kit should contain enough medications, water and food for everyone for at least three days. A combination water bottle and serving dish is available at pet stores and is ideal to furnish water for pets. Bottled water can be used by family members and pets alike.
Include any medications that might be needed for anyone during this stressful time. A diabetic pet will need insulin to be kept cold and needles and syringes for administration. Keep a small refrigerated bag such as a lunch box ready with syringes. At the last minute, an icepack and insulin or other meds can be dropped in to take with you.
Keep your pets up to date on vaccinations and have them microchipped. Microchipping is the only form of identification that will stay with the pet no matter what. Collars with tags are good, but should they be taken off of the pet by accident or purpose, they can be lost as a form of ID. This adds a certain level of safe return should you be separated for any reason. Obtain or make a Rescue Alert sticker to put on front and back doors to let rescue personnel know pets may be inside.
Prepare cages and leashes with harnesses in a designated area so pets can be quickly caged for transport. If a pet is on a special diet, place a three-day supply in a sealed container inside or near the cages so everything is “grab and go.” Try never to leave pets behind if at all possible.
Have frequent family meetings and involve everyone in the planning, gathering and maintenance of the preparedness kit or area. If medications, diets or other things change with time, be sure to include the new item(s) in the kit.
As a backup ask a neighbor, friend or other relative to check on your family and pets should an emergency happen. You might consider giving them a key to the house. Having current pictures of pets and family members can be helpful in a worse-case scenario. Try to have copies of pet health records showing current vaccinations should they ultimately have to go to a kennel or care facility for a period of time following a disaster.
Visit the ASPCA, American Red Cross, and the Humane Society of the United States web sites to review suggestions for preparedness or call 1-800-BE-READY to receive a free copy of a preparedness brochure.
Do your homework sooner than later. Set up a preparedness center ahead of time and any form of disaster can be made so much easier.
DR. M. MARGARET KING, a longtime Edmond veterinarian, is a guest columnist. If you have any questions for her, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.