Porky & Buddy’s Pet Health: Disaster Preparedness and Your Pet

Dear Porky & Buddy,

Oops! I got myself stranded at my camp in the Adirondacks last weekend because of all the rain and flooding and fortunately I had my dogs with me, but no extra food or supplies for them and I was a little panicked about that until the road was reopened. Now I just feel foolish, that I was so unprepared. Do you have any general advice about how to be ready for what Mother Nature seems to be throwing at us lately?


Dear Ken,

The best thing you can do for yourself and your pets is to be prepared for the two basic emergency scenarios—you are either stuck inside your house or you are stuck with having to leave your house.

So here are our suggestions for the basics. You can find much more detailed lists and ideas at aspca.org or humanesociety.org. For now, we just want to get you thinking.

First of all get a pet rescue sticker and put it up. The sticker will let people know that pets are inside your home. Make sure it is visible to rescue workers, and that it includes the types and number of pets in your household. You can find one in most pet stores.

Then make sure you have the supplies you would need for your pets if you are stuck in the house because of a storm or other emergency (and don’t forget that this may include the loss of power). So you need a decent supply of food, litter, safe water, any medications that they take, some basic first aid supplies, and a way to provide light if the power goes out. When you think about it, you need to do for your pets what you should do for yourself and your human family. Our guess is that you haven’t done that either, so maybe this will be an incentive to get going. When a hurricane hits or you are blanketed with five feet of snow overnight IT IS TOO LATE TO RUN OUT TO THE STORE!

Then you need to have a plan for what you will do if you have to leave your house. Basically you need to arrange a safe haven for your pets in the event of evacuation. Do not leave your pets behind. Remember, if it isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for your pets. Remember that not all disaster shelters accept pets, so it is important that you have a plan about where you will bring your pets ahead of time if you have to leave the house. For instance, you should have a list of local boarding kennels and facilities. You should identify hotels or motels outside of your immediate area that accept pets. And ask friends and relatives if they would be willing to take in your pet (and maybe you) in an emergency.

Keep evacuation supplies for your pets handy so that you and everyone in the family can grab them quickly if you have to leave quickly. These supplies should be easy to pack up and carry out and should include: a pet first-aid kit (ask your vet what to include); several days’ worth of food (that you rotate periodically so it isn’t stale); disposable litter trays and litter; paper toweling, liquid dish soap, disinfectant and garbage bags for clean-up; pet feeding dishes; extra collars or harnesses and an extra leash; photocopies of medical records and a waterproof container with a supply of any medicine your pet requires (remember to rotate that too); bottled water; crates or sturdy carriers, ideally one for each pet; a flashlight that works; extra blankets, pillows and toys for everybody.

Finally, make sure all your pets wear collars and tags with up-to-date identification. Your pet’s ID tag should contain his name, telephone number, and any urgent medical needs. Be sure to write your pet’s name, your name and contact information on your pet’s carrier too. We strongly recommend microchipping your pet as a more permanent form of identification. A microchip can be read by scanner at most animal shelters and veterinary hospitals.

(While you are at it, you should also have an emergency kit for the human members of the family. Items to include: Batteries, duct tape, flashlight, radio, multi-tool, tarp, rope, permanent marker, spray paint, baby wipes, protective clothing and footwear, extra cash, a rescue whistle, important phone numbers, extra medication and copies of medical and insurance information.)

We sincerely hope all these supplies just sit in a corner somewhere gathering dust forever, but won’t you feel all smug and virtuous if you ever have to use them?

And speaking of feeling virtuous, do something good for your dogs and good for the Humane Society by attending Strut Your Mutt, a 5K Run or Walk and 1 Mile Family Walk on Saturday, September 17th starting at 9 am at Fallbrook Recreation Center, 103 Thompson Road in Oswego? There will be music, lots of activities for kids, a picnic lunch and you can sign up online at www.oswegohumane.org. And then that same day from 6 to 10 pm you can do the Barn Cat Boogie, with a barbecue picnic dinner, dancing, raffles and a fabulous silent auction, also in the barn at Fallbrook. You can sign up online for that event too at www.oswegohumane.org and we can party till the cows come home!

The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County. Our office is located at 265 West First Street, Oswego, New York. Phone (315) 207-1070. Email:[email protected] Website: www.oswegohumane.org.