Don’t Forget Fido!

When we think of emergency preparedness we usually make plans for ourselves, our family and our neighbors. However, being prepared for an emergency also means thinking about all the needs of your pets.

California has seen it shares of disasters in recent years, such as wildfires and flooding. Sadly, many pets were left behind to fend for themselves resulting in serious injuries, death or disappearance. Needless to say, the protection and safety of our animal friends is a critical piece of emergency planning.

“Pets are members of our families, yet too often their needs are not considered when we think about disasters,” said Tina Curry, Deputy Director of Planning, Preparedness and Prevention. “Preparing for your pet’s needs before, during and after an emergency is very similar to preparing ourselves. One of the most important steps is to have a disaster plan for the whole family—including pets.”

Any time is a good time to prepare, but June is National Pet Preparedness Month and with this special recognition, Cal OES wants to remind everyone the importance of pet planning to help you avoid being in a difficult situation in the next disaster or emergency.

Here are some general tips to get your pet emergency ready:

  • Microchip your pets and secure ID tags on your pets’ collars.
  • Identify evacuation locations and be familiar with local shelters.
  • Start a buddy system. Identify someone who can evacuate your animals if you’re not home.
  • Take photos of you with your pet and keep copies in your emergency kit.
  • Make sure you have an emergency kit for your pet. Items in the kit should include pet food, water, medications, veterinary records, blankets, animal records, animal carrier, leash, etc.

If you find yourself and your pets in the middle of an emergency, bring them inside to a safe area immediately. If you are ordered to evacuate, do not leave your pets behind. Evacuate with your animals as safely as you can, without putting yourself in danger.

For those that have larger animals such as horses, cattle, sheep, goats or pigs an emergency plan should always be in place. Below are some basic tips, but additional information about animal disaster planning may be obtained by contacting your local Office of Emergency Services and large animal shelter.

  • Ensuring all animals have some form of identification.
  • Evacuating animals whenever possible. Map out primary and secondary routes in advance.
  • Making sure vehicles and trailers for transporting animals as well as experienced handlers and drivers are available.
  • Ensuring destinations have food, water, veterinary care and handling equipment.

Additional Resources:

Cal OES – Animal & Pet Planning – Pet and Animal Emergency Planning

ASPCA – Disaster Preparedness

Robb Mayberry

Robb Mayberry is a Public Information Officer for the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. He has assisted in the response and recovery efforts with some of California’s worst disasters, including the San Refugio Oil Spill, the Valley and Butte Wildfires, Aliso Canyon Gas Leak, Erskine Fire, and the Winters Storms of 2017. Prior to public service, he spent 25 years managing the public and media relations for some of Northern California’s largest healthcare organizations.

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