Preparing for an emergency must include all family members

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Disaster Animal Response Team shares tips for emergency preparedness for pets

HANTS EAST: When emergencies happen, time is of the essence. Being prepared can be the difference between safe evacuation and needing rescue.

And, including our four-legged family members in those preparations is vital.

Catherine Stevens, Communications Director for the Disaster Animal Response Team NS (DARTNS), said including pets in planning can make scary situations easier.

“You have to prepare for a disaster, it’s not if it happens, it’s when it happens. Unfortunately,” said Stevens.

During evacuations, we can have only minutes to prepare. Having an emergency kit can be beneficial to making the minutes count.

“When you’re making an emergency kit for you, as a human, you’re going to need a bag to put it in,” said Stevens. “So get an extra one for your pet. So it’s labeled with your name, your vet’s number if required.”

She went on to explain exactly what should be included in kits for our pets.

“Does your pet have any medications? You might not want to put them in there, but at least write down what the pet is on and the dosage, because you would do the same for you,” she listed. “Food, the water, the medication. Whatever you’re putting in for you, make sure you’re putting in for your pet.”

Stevens also had several tips to share.

“You’re going to put some canned food in for you, you’re going to do the same thing for your pet, because if you don’t have access to water right away, that wet food is going to give them hydration as well,” she said. “If you can’t find a blanket or something for your pet, grab something out of your laundry basket. It will have your scent on it and it will give a pet that comfort feeling because it has your scent on it.”

Stevens said we all need five things to survive a disaster.

“I always put love at the top of the list, but we need food, shelter, water, and medical care,” she said. “So, flip that over to your pet.”

Who is DARTNS?

They are a charitable organization, working in partnership with the Canadian Red Cross to set up and run emergency shelters, for animals affected by man-made and natural disasters. With the Red Cross being one of the leading organizations when it comes to providing humanitarian support in times of disaster, it seems like a natural fit that they now work together. People love their pets and would not want to leave them behind. Now, you can evacuate with your pet, and you both have a safe place to go.

Pets and Emergencies

Plan for your Pets is just as important as planning for your family, you should have a plan in place for your pets during an emergency.

Animals can’t be left behind in the event of an evacuation and many temporary emergency shelters will not accept them.

Preparing Pets for an Emergency:

•Make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date. Pet shelters may require proof of vaccines.

•Keep a collar with license and identification on your pet.

•Have a special kit prepared including a leash, muzzle (if necessary), carrying case, food, water and food bowls, any necessary medications and specific care instructions for your pets. Even if you are not forced to evacuate your pet will have adequate food and supplies on hand.

•Contact your veterinarian or local humane society to find out potential shelters ahead of time. Taking Care of Pets during an Emergency:

•Bring pets inside well in advance of a storm. Many animals are uneasy during storms –try to keep them calm and reassured. Make sure to take them for a walk before the storm starts.

•Pet shelters will fill fast. Call first to determine availability.

Taking Care of Pets after an Emergency:

•Walk your pet on a leash until they are comfortable and re-oriented. Often, in the aftermath of a storm, familiar landmarks and scents have disappeared and pets could become confused.

•Watch for downed power lines and debris, broken fences or open gates

•Watch your pet’s behaviour–they may become defensive or aggressive after a traumatic event.

•If sidewalks are blocked, use caution when walking your pet. Make sure you are both wearing reflective clothing so oncoming traffic can see you. Always make sure to have your dog on a leash in bad weather.