Disaster Planning for Pets

Disaster Planning for Pets

Last week we found ourselves in the path of the tornado that swept across Dallas Fort Worth. We sheltered with our pets in our home as the sirens sounded and were hit by hail just larger than golf ball size. We were lucky – the tornado touched down just south of us causing minor damage to homes and stores but passed over our neighborhood leaving only hail damage.  It left me wondering what we would we have done with our pets – and our pet sitting clients pets – if the storm had been more serious. So today I wanted to give you some information that can help you to put together your own pet disaster plan.

Everyone should have a disaster plan for themselves and their pets. If you have a pet business you also need to have a plan to make sure your clients pets are cared for if you have a personal emergency or are involved in a community evacuation. These emergencies need not be as dramatic as a tornado but can include sudden illness of yourself or a family member or bad road conditions that don’t allow you to get home or to homes of your clients.
At a pet sitting conference we attended earlier this year one of the sitters suggested that pet business owners should take the Disaster planning course offerred by the Humane Society. Their course “Disaster Animal Response Training” is a 3 day training that covers all aspects of caring for pets in a distaster. Visit their site to find a regional office close to you.
Some of the other great information available at their website includes how to put together a pet disaster kit for your home or vehicle, and how to plan ahead to find hotels and boarding facilities in your surrounding area that you can take your animals to if you have to evaculate your home.
A few simple things to do right away are to:
1) Ensure your pets wear identification that includes your contact numbers and address
2) Find a trusted neighbor that the pets are comfortable with and give them a key so that they could enter your home and take care of your pets if you can’t make it home for any reason. Make sure they are familiar with pets habits and hiding places and the location of pet supplies and disaster kit.
3) If you evacuate – take your pets with you. Have leashes and carriers handy in case you have to evacuate with your pets.
I also found some great tips on questions to ask during disaster planning in an article by Diana Guerrero “WHY ANIMAL DISASTER PREPAREDNESS?”. She also addresses animal behavior during and after a disaster.
Having a documented disaster plan is a great marketing tool for your business as it highlights your professionalism and committment to your clients pets safety.