Due to the fires in San Diego the last few days, I am sharing some information I received in an email from a Petco representative. I am sure you will find it extremely informative and helpful.
Between the seven fires taking place in San Diego County, more than 44,000 homes have been evacuated. As we have seen in the past 72 hours, when preparing to evacuate, it's important to also think about our furry family members and include them in emergency plans.
Although many residents have been allowed to return home, there are still thousands of people who are displaced and with the lack of rain and warm temperatures. I wanted to share the following tips from San Diego-based, Petco, that can help ensure both people and pets are prepared if and when disaster strikes:
Avoid Losing Pets
• Keep pets inside. A pet left outside in the elements can be injured or die, or can become easily lost.
• Keep current photographs of pets with important documents. If a pet is lost during a disaster, a sharp, recent photo can be used to make flyers.
• Keep an up-to-date identification tag securely fastened on pets. If a pet gets out or flees from a scary scene, this will greatly increase the chance they will be returned. Take this measure even for indoor cats. Use breakaway collars, and make sure cats can slip their head out if the collar gets caught on something. Having a cellular telephone number on a pets ID tag instead of a home number is recommended because if there is an evacuation, no one will be home to answer phone calls. Also consider getting microchip IDs for animals.
Keeping Pets Mentally and Emotionally at Ease
• When the family is stressed, most pets will feel it too. Bringing along their favorite blanket or toy can often help ease anxiety. There are also calming agents and products like the Thundershirt that can help.
• Ten minutes of thinking play can equal 45 minutes of active, outdoor play for pets. During stressful situations such as evacuations or storms, keep pets mentally stimulated and entertained with food puzzles. There are even puzzles for hamsters such as bedding that hamster’s can sort by color and size.
Make Evacuation Plans
• Do not leave pets behind during evacuations. Take all pets including birds, reptiles, hamsters, rabbits, etc. In case of an emergency evacuation, it is always a good idea to keep an extra harness in vehicles, as well as an emergency kit as an extra precaution. Also, make sure to keep a carrier and seatbelt harness for each pet in the car to ensure safe transportation of pets. Put the pet’s name along with the pet parent’s name and phone number on the crate or habitat that the pet will be transported in. This will ensure someone can reach pet parents that are separated from their animal. If transporting small animals, birds, or reptiles and their habitats, this may require additional attention and care to help decrease chances of stress-induced illness and death. It is important to keep pets from different species as separate as possible and maintain the best possible hygiene in order to decrease disease transmission.
• When transporting animals, park or move the car close to the house and ensure the car is warmed up before putting an animal inside. When using a carrier to transport a pet, cover the carrier for transport to and from the car to help prevent exposure to the elements, but remove the cover once in the car for better ventilation. Plan travel routes in advance so animals are taken directly to intended destinations and take the animal inside the new location first prior to bringing in any other item.
• As a precaution, make advance arrangements by checking with a veterinarian, local animal hospital, kennel or shelter to see if dogs or other pets can be boarded during a disaster. Be prepared to submit current medical records. Pooch Hotel in Mission Valley is currently offering boarding for pets who have been evacuated from their homes, as well as boarding for pets of firefighters and first responders who are on call 24 hours a day and unable to care for pets at the moment.
• Make sure to have a pet “emergency kit” on hand. This waterproof bag should include pet food and dishes, bottled water, treats, a can opener, medications, potty pads, paper towels and cleaning supplies, copies of pets' medical records (in a waterproof container), toys, leashes, harnesses, collars, current photos and contact numbers. It’s also important to have a pet’s regular medications. Keeping familiar beds and blankets in the emergency kit can help put pets at emotionally at ease if they are evacuated to an unfamiliar location. For cats, also pack disposable litter pans, litter and a scoop. For small animals, reptiles and fish, be sure to include extra bedding or substrate. Always have at least one week's supply of water in storage for animals. If the drinking water gets contaminated in a disaster, it's not safe for people or pets.
Feel free to print this information and keep it somewhere handy.