The photos of pets that come out after the storms have passed are either heart-warming or heart-breaking. Exhibit A would be like that little boy in some unknown province in the Philippines, carrying a puppy on his back, while wading through waist-deep floods. Exhibit B would be the horrific sight of dogs, cattle, and horses who perished because their owners, while scurrying off to safety, left them chained or caged. Pets during disasters should not be abandoned or forgotten.
Your safety and that of your family’s is non-negotiable. That goes without saying. But that pet who has cheered you up on many occasions does not have to suffer that unkind fate. Besides, pets are considered family members, too. The good news is, you can prepare for their safety—and set them free to survive with (or without) you should the next calamity hits.
The aftermath of superstorms Rolly and Ulysses has left the Philippines reeling, with provinces and cities submerged under water. Unfortunately, because of our country’s global location, these will not be the last. At the same time that we are fixing our roofs and buttressing our walls to safeguard ourselves, we should also create emergency plans of evacuation for our pets in case we do suffer the worst case scenario.
Here are a few smart and easy ways to do it ASAP:
1.) Identify your pets with personalized collars.
This contingency will help you during non-stormy emergency cases. For example, your pet somehow exits your yard and wanders off into the neighborhood. But a name collar is critical during calamities when you find that you have to let them go to run off into higher ground on their own. Your dog’s collar should have his name, YOUR name, and your contact information like a cellphone number. That way, once the danger is over, the one who finds your pet can easily contact you. It should also save you sleepless nights of worrying.
As per the advice of the Red Cross, include them [pets] in the drills you do with your family. Do not leave them out. Show them which part of the room they need to run to once your own loved ones start that exodus.
Collars with names don’t have to be flat-out boring. They can be cute, stylish elegant, and readable. They are not just emergency measures but reflect your pet’s distinct personality. At the very least, the right combination of color and font can draw in a friendly stranger to read the info and reach out to you. The chances of your pet being ignored become slimmer.
2.) Prepare an emergency kit for your pets.
In the same way that you pack your knapsack or emergency bag with bottled water, protein bars, towels, and clothes for an emergency evacuation, you have to do the same with your pet. Again do not wait the last minute. You can shop for these essentials and store them at the same time that you are doing it for your (human) loved ones.
According to the CDC, a pet emergency kit should have the following: two weeks of food and water for each pet; poop bags; medicines and vaccines if you are giving your friendly furry regular animal shots; and their medical history written or printed on readable paper. You will have to carry this pet emergency kit with you during evacuation.
3.) Train your pet how to evacuate with you.
And, yes, you do have to evacuate with your pet—and train them how to accompany you once you do this.
Families right now are beginning to do emergency evacuation practices, the same way that company personnel do regular fire drills. Our parents, spouses, kids, and every other family member cannot be caught unaware and ill-prepared once the floods start rising, or parts of the house get blown by the wind. Parents are training their partners and their children what to do in case that happens. They know which room to go into, which floor to climb, what to leave behind, and the emergency bags they have to carry.
Again, do this with your pet—and do it now while the sun is still shining. As per the advice of the Red Cross, include them in the drills you do with your family. Do not leave them out. Show them which part of the room they need to run to once your own loved ones start that exodus. Teach them which part of the car they have to crowd into once your family makes their get-away.
If it is possible—like your dog is also friendly with a neighbor, a friend, or a relative—you can entrust him to same in case you are not home when the emergency happens.
Place a leash (or two) in cabinets near your house’s doors, gates, or exit points. That way, when you do need to scramble, you can easily grab one and put them on your dog as you leave your home. A leash on hand will ensure that your pet will stay with you.
If it is possible—like your dog is also friendly with a neighbor, a friend, or a relative—you can entrust him to same in case you are not home when the emergency happens. That buddy or brother can keep your pet and take care of him at the slightest notice, without having to worry about being bitten or attacked.
You can protect your pet during disasters and calamities. But the preparation starts now. It is doable and thinkable—and best to do them before the unthinkable happens. They are, after all, part of your family who you want to keep safe at all costs.
And think of that warm, grateful hug they will give you once both of you return home.
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