This week marks the anniversary of Loma Prieta, the most recent major earthquake to hit the Bay Area. If you lived here then, you likely haven’t forgotten where you were, or what happened to you, your family and your friends. Luckily, most houses in our area didn’t suffer major damage. Many people lost glassware, if the cupboard or china cabinet was unlucky enough to be on the wrong wall, but otherwise, not much happened that was bad for most of us. But, we must never ever forget that we live in earthquake country and one can strike at any instant. It’s up to you to take precautions for yourself, your family and your pets.
The Foster City Fire Department has produced the Pet Emergency Form above. Why don’t you print out and tape it to your front window to alert emergency workers that you have a pet in your home.
Tips for Pet Owners Before a Disaster
- If you have a dog, keep you pet’s ID tag up-to-date and make sure it is securely fastened to your pet’s collar.
- Make sure nothing is positioned so that it can fall on your pet.
- Arrange for a neighbor to take care of your pet if you are not able to get home after a disaster.
- Find out before a disaster which local hotels and motels allow pets and where pet boarding facilities are located. Be sure to include some outside our local area, in case local facilities are closed. Remember that most boarding facilities require veterinarian records to provide vaccination records are current, so keep these in a handy place.
- Be aware that pets will not be allowed at most locations for the sheltering of displaced people, so you may need to have a place to house your pet while you are at the shelter.
- Prepare a list of family, friends, boarding facilities, veterinarians and pet-friendly hotels that could shelter your pets in an emergency.
- Prepare a shelter or evacuation kit for your pet, including an unbreakable dish, veterinarian records, a leash or pet carrier (for small dogs and cats) and medication with instructions.
During and After an Event
- Do not try to hold onto your pet during an earthquake. Animals will instinctively protect themselves and hide where they are safe. If you get in their way, even the nicest pets can turn on you.
- Be patient with your pets after a disaster. They get stressed just like people and need time to readjust. They may disappear for some time, but they generally show up again when things have calmed down.
- If you have outdoor pets, keep them indoors until any major after-shocks have subsided and your pet has calmed down.
- If you must evacuate your home, do not leave your pets behind. Listen to your local news sources for information on where you can go with your pets. Since Katrina, many shelters have learned how important it is to have space for pets.
Disaster Supply Checklist for Pets
Keep everything accessible and stored in sturdy containers that can easily be carried. Put food in containers. Have all veterinarian records with this, and put them into a duffel bag or covered trash container that is easy to grab and carry with you.
What should your disaster kit contain?
- Medications and medical records stored in a water-proof container and a first aid kit. A pet first aid book is also good to include.
- Sturdy leashes, harnesses, and carriers to transport pets safely, and to ensure that your pets can’t escape. Your carriers should be large enough for the animal to stand comfortably, turn around and lie down. Your pets may have to stay in the carrier for hours at a time while you have taken shelter away from home. Be sure to have a secure cage with no loose objects inside it to accommodate smaller pets. These may require blankets or towels for bedding and warmth, and other special items.
- Current photos and descriptions of your pets to help others identify them in case you and your pets become separated and to prove that they are yours.
- Food and water for at least three days for each pet, bowls, cat littler and little box and a manual cat opener, if needed.
- Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and the name and number of your veterinarian inn case you have to board your pets or place them in foster care.
- Pet beds and toys, if you can easily take them, to reduce stress.
- Other useful items include newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags, grooming items, and household bleach.
As I’ve written about earthquake safety before, it only takes a few minutes to you review what you can to for your own safety below.