Pet Emergency Management

Who ever thought that a downed power line and an overturned 18 wheeler would lead the record setting California Wildfires of 2007? The million people evacuated from Southern California truly didn’t have that emergency on their radar screen. Generally speaking, emergencies don’t make appointments, or do they? Perhaps you have an idea what you’d do in a state of emergency…but have your plans included your pet?

Government policy

Since Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Cost in 2005, the federal government has made drastic policy changes. In the summer of 2006, the U.S. Senate passed the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act (P.E.T.S. Act). The PETS Act is an amendment to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act and it ensures that State and local emergency preparedness operational plans address the needs of individuals with household pets and service animals following a major disaster or emergency.

The PETS Act is a very important step in ensuring that pet owners will never again be forced to make an impossibly difficult choice: leave their animal behind while they flee a disaster or put themselves and emergency responders at risk in order to protect and care for their pets. The new rule is clear: No Pets Left Behind!
What does the bill actually mean to you? This measure grants FEMA the authority to assist in developing plans and to authorize financial help to States to create emergency shelters for people with their animals. This measure also allows the provision of essential assistance for individuals with household pets and service animals, and the animals themselves, following a major disaster….
However, you still should have a plan, know how to locate shelter in your area or in the area you are planning to evacuate to WITH your pet.

How do you begin to prepare?

A great way to get that type of information is to visit your local/state Emergency Management Agency (EMA) website. The Emergency Management Network (http://www.emergencymgt.net/emergencyalertsystems.html) will take you there easily!
All you need to do is:

  1. Visit the site and find your state/local Emergency Management Agency
  2. Sign up to Receive Emergency Alert Notifications
  3. GET READY

Getting Ready…
Make sure you and your pet are ready no matter what no matter when.
To ensure you don’t forget anything important when the emergency strikes- pack your important documents (house, insurance, contracts, medical records, computer data, pictures of your loved ones/pets etc.), food and water, clothes, first aid equipment, and medications for you, your family and your pet(s) for at least 7 days.

How to Plan For Your Pets….

1. Tag, Tattoo and/or Microchip your Pet. In the event you are not in the company of your pet when disaster strikes, make sure that when you pet is found you can be contacted. Adding a secondary caregiver’s info might improve your chances of finding your pet if lost.

2. Get a Rescue Alert Sticker. It will let people know that pets are inside your home. Make sure it is visible to rescue workers. If you must evacuate with your pets, and if time allows, write “EVACUATED” across the stickers.

3. Arrange a Safe Haven. Note that Red Cross disaster shelters will NOT accept pets because of health and safety regulations, so it is imperative that you have determined where you will bring your pets AHEAD of time.4. Emergency Supplies and Traveling Kits. Keep an Evacuation Pack and supplies handy for your pets. Make sure that everyone in the family knows where it is.

5.  Choose “Designated Caregivers”. He or she should be someone who is generally home during the day while you are at work or has easy access to your home. A set of keys should be given to this trusted individual along with clear instructions of care. Get to know where that individual would go should they be forced to evacuate or leave the premises.

6. Evacuation Preparation. If you must evacuate your home in a crisis, plan for the worst-case scenario. If you think you may be gone for only a day, assume that you may not be allowed to return for several weeks. Consider your evacuation route and call ahead to make arrangements for boarding your pet outside of the danger zone at the first sign of disaster. Remember: Emergency Kits serve you best if ready BEFORE the emergency.

7. Geographic and Climatic Considerations. Do you live in an area that is prone to certain natural catastrophes, such as tornadoes, earthquakes or floods? If so, you should plan accordingly. Visit the U.S. Emergency Management Agency Finder section to locate your State and/or local emergency management agency. Please follow their instructions as they are most familiar with your location and its risks.

8. Stock Up on Pet Necessities. Water for your pet(s), pet food, litter box (if your pet uses the litter), plastic bags (for trash), newspapers & pet medication.

9. Learn Which Emergency Shelter Allows Pets .And learn the rules (they should have a form or handout available).

10. Keep a Crate Per Pet. After Katrina, some shelters allow pets as long as they are crated. Remember however that these shelters will be booked first.

11. Keep Your Pets Vaccinations Up-To-Date. Those shelters that accept pets will require proof of vaccinations. Keep records available in your Evacuation Pack.

12. Make some Room for your Pets In Your Will/Testimony. Should something happen to you during that emergency, make sure that your pets will be taken care of.

As of September 2006, some states provide pet owners with the possibility to create a Trust for their pets. You can choose for a pet trust to take effect upon your death or any disability that prevents you from caring properly for your pet. Although this alternative may seem extreme to some, it is now legal in some form in Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. Check with your state attorney general or your local Humane Society to find out the status of the law in your state.

Need First Aid and Emergency Management Products for your Pets?

Check out www.wagn4u.com. You can find products to manage your pet during a disaster and for every day emergencies.

Be safe, be prepared and keep waggin!

by Ines DePablo

Ines DePablo is the Owner of the Emergency Management Network and CEO of Wag’N Enterprises, specializing in Pet Emergency Management. Wag’N is committed to informing owners about their options, and educating them how they can prepare and respond to an emergency. Their goal is to make sure that the pets you love so dearly are cared for appropriately to prevent a dire situation from becoming a full-blown emergency.