Ready Army has plan to keep pets safe, too
Story by: Katherine Rosario
1st Inf. Div. Post
During a natural disaster pets are often taken into basement shelters, put in kennels or stuffed in a pillowcase, but many people forget to make a kit to keep their pet fed and medicated properly.
Keeping pets safe during a disaster requires advanced planning and knowing how to protect your Family and your pets, said Erik Stewart, Installation Emergency Management specialist.
"Knowing what supplies to have available, how to evacuate with your pet, where your pet will stay and how you will meet your pet's needs throughout the disaster are all critical questions that must be addressed," he said.
Stewart said a lack of planning for pet issues during a disaster can have a direct effect on the safety of the human population.
"Pets are integral members of many Families, and a community's lack of planning for pet issues may cause Families to delay evacuation or avoid seeking assistance until they are sure their pet's needs are met. Additionally, first responders may be put at risk when confronted by frightened or displaced animals left behind," Stewart said.
If the disaster causes an intermingling of wild and domesticated animals, diseases like rabies could become a threat to humans and animals.
Local animal control, humane societies, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and veterinarians can all play a vital part in helping people locate their pet after a disaster or sheltering their pet during the disaster.
If it is not possible to evacuate in a vehicle and pets are not allowed at the local shelter, Stewart recommends making arrangements to keep a pet at an animal shelter or local veterinarian office.
He also suggested letting neighbors know how many pets reside in a Family's home in case they have to evacuate and are unable to take their pets.
If a Family can take their pet with them, Stewart suggests keeping three days of pet food in an airtight, waterproof container. It also is important to keep at least three days of clean water for a pet in addition to water for the Family.
Medicines for a pet should be clearly marked, he said, and all pet medical records should be kept in an airtight bag.
A pet first aid kit can come in handy if a pet is injured during the disaster or rescue efforts, he said.
"Talk to your veterinarian about what is most appropriate for your pet's emergency medical needs. Most kits should include cotton bandage rolls, bandage tape and scissors; antibiotic ointment; flea and tick prevention; and latex gloves, isopropyl alcohol and saline solution," he said.
It is always important to keep an extra collar with an identification and rabies tag in the pet kit, along with an extra leash.
A picture of you and your pet together is a good item to keep on hand in case the pet becomes separated from the Family.
"A picture of you and your pet together will help you document ownership and allow others to assist you in identifying your pet. Include detailed information about the species, breed, age, sex, color and distinguishing characteristics," Stewart said.
Obtaining "Pets Inside" stickers to place in the windows of a home can help emergency services know how many animals reside in the house.
"Consider putting a phone number on the sticker where you could be reached in an emergency. And, if time permits, remember to write the words 'Evacuated with Pets' across the stickers, should you evacuate your home with your pets," he said.
Stewart said it is important to remember to try not to place young children in charge of pets in a high-stress environment.
"Pets are more sensitive to changes in environment and human emotion. A pet's survival instincts can over ride Family imprinting and learned behavior. Your pet may become aggressive, non-responsive to known commands or attempt to flee and hide until they sense the danger is over," he said.
For more information, contact a local animal shelter.
The Fort Riley Veterinary office can be reached at 785-239-3886. Riley County Humane Society, Inc., in Manhattan can be reached at 785-776-8433.