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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Pet Preparedness Month: Make an evacuation plan that includes the whole family.

Dog wearing canine backpack laying in the grass with tennis
 ball, leash, and collapsible water bowl.
As a pet owner, I have always felt that my four- legged friend is one of the family. I have always shown compassion for Boomer, my three year old Golden Retriever, as deeply as I do my own children. That is why, when it comes to his health and well-being, I make sure to include Boomer in my family’s emergency preparedness plan.

Just as you take special consideration for children or elderly family members, your pet’s preparedness should go through a similar process. Following these simple tips can alleviate the stress you and your pet experience during an emergency.

Starting from the inside out

Pets are acutely tuned to your feelings. They can sense excitement, fear, and stress. Often times this creates a sense of panic for your pet, who only wants to make you happy. When they cannot “cure” the tension you are experiencing, they start to experience these emotions themselves. If you are one that does not regularly take your pet with you outside of the home, this may also feed into your pet’s emotions as you attempt to load them into the vehicle and remove them from their comfort zone.

The first thing I do with Boomer is show compassion, rather than frustration during a stressful situation. Simply giving him a few seconds of attention and talking calmly to him helps alleviate his tension. I take Boomer on morning walks regularly and he takes car rides with our family to the park, camping, and the groomer, so he does not associate a car ride with something negative like going to the vet. These practices all feed into the readiness of our family evacuation plan.

 ID your pet

One of the basic steps pet owners can take is make sure your pet has current identification tags securely fastened to your pet’s collar. The ID tag should include at a minimum, the pet’s name, address and contact phone number. Micro-chipping your pet is another option to help reunite if you become separated from your pet.
I have current photo of Boomer and I together that will help if he becomes lost and I enlist others to help locate him. It will also help establish ownership, should it be questioned when reuniting.

Boomer’s bug out bag

Just as I have for other family members, I have also packed a 72 hour kit of pet care items for Boomer.  Some basics items I have included are:
Dog standing wearing canine backpack

·         Food in an air tight, waterproof container

·         Three days of water

·         Medication/Supplements

·         Pet specific first aid kit

·         Leash

·         Toys

To make this easier, I purchased Boomer a doggie backpack and have his ssentials  packed inside. Boomer carries his backpack on walks to condition him wearing his pack. In an emergency, I know by grabbing his pack I have the basics Boomer will need.

 Evacuation preparedness

Evacuations during an emergency can be one of the most stressful situations anyone can experience. Having a plan for pet accommodations is crucial.

If you must evacuate, take your pets with you.  Although only service animals are allowed in most public shelters, local animal care and control will try to set up a pet shelter in proximity to the public shelter as well.

Whether you plan on staying in a public shelter, with a friend or family member, or in a hotel, it is a good idea to have a kennel for your pet. Aside from a blanket, food and water, there are a few other items that can help ease your pet’s nerves and help with separation anxiety should you not be able to keep your pet with you in the temporary evacuation shelter. For Boomer, I include a shirt that I have worn to provide a familiar scent and minimize the feeling of abandonment during times of separation.

Like most of us, sitting around waiting can be boring and lead to higher levels of anxiety. Include a pet’s favorite toy or other items to keep them entertained can ease the time confined to the kennel. Boomer likes to have a knotted rope to chew on and a tennis ball.

It is also a good idea to attach an information card to the outside of the kennel to help for the care of your pet in your absence. This card should include:

·         Name

·         Breed

·         Age

·         Medical conditions

·         Owner name

·         Address

·         Phone number

·         Veterinarian’s Information

·         Picture

·         Special Notes

Each emergency will vary and the needs of your pet may also be different, but preparing now can alleviate the stress you and your pet go through. For more information or to download a checklist, visit

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