Getting a Handle on Disaster Preparedness


kittenIn the wake of the extreme weather that’s been happening across the country and around the world, it seems like a good time to think about disaster preparedness. Of course, in thinking about a potential disaster, your first thoughts are probably about your loved ones or your home, but what about your pets or livestock? It’s not uncommon for animals to be separated from their owners during a natural disaster, but by planning ahead, you can make even the most challenging disaster more manageable. Simply by planning ahead and knowing what will need done, you can eliminate one stress from what will already be a frightening time.
Small Animals

Use Rescue Alert Stickers
In case of emergency when you are not at home (or if you were forced to leave your home suddenly), rescue window stickers let the emergency services know that your pets are inside. Place stickers on front and back windows, on barn or kennel doors, or pasture entrances. They should be easily visible and indicate:

  • the type and number of animals inside
  • the name and phone number of your veterinarian

Also make sure that your pets have identification on them and, if they are microchipped, that you have registered the chip and your contact information is current.

Take Your Pets With You
If evacuation is required, be sure to have an evacuation plan in place that will allow you to take your pets with you. Remember that if an evacuation order is mandated, it’s not safe at home for you or your pets, so don’t leave them behind. If you cannot take your pets where you are planning to go, you can:

  • ask your veterinarian for a list of preferred boarding kennels
  • ask friends or family outside your immediate area to care for your pets
  • locate a hotel which will accept animals

You should also plan to travel with an emergency supply kit. Create a kit for your pets, label it, and make sure that everyone in your home knows where to find it. For a complete list of what to include, see PVMA’s Disaster Preparedness Fact Sheet.

Unfortunately, dealing with livestock during a disaster isn’t as simple or quick as dealing with the family dog or cat. The best thing to do is come up with an evacuation plan in the case that the livestock need to be removed, and make sure that your animals are familiar with being loaded onto a trailer. Premises with facilities that are specifically designed to load and handle livestock will be much more successful in evacuating and relocating livestock. Prearrange an evacuation site for your animals.

Possible locations include:

  • veterinary or land grant colleges
  • racetracks
  • showgrounds/fairgrounds
  • pastures
  • stables
  • equestrian centers
  • stockyards or auction facilities
  • boarding facilities
  • livestock corrals

If you do not have enough trailers to haul all your animals quickly from the evacuation site, contact neighbors, local haulers, farmers, producers, or other transportation providers to establish a plan. In addition, if transporting cattle, if an animal is or has been medically treated and is still under a withdrawal period, a treatment record including the animals ID or group ID, date of treatment, drugs used (and manufacturer), location of administration, and the name of the administerer must accompany the animal.

No one wants to deal with the fear and uncertainty which accompanies a natural disaster, but your pets and livestock rely on you keep them safe as well. Developing a preparedness plan and an evacuation plan will ensure that you’ve done everything you can to make sure that you all get out safely.

For a full list of tips and emergency contacts, review PVMA’s Disaster Preparedness Fact Sheet.


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