SOS: Keeping Dogs Safe in Disasters
Updated: Aug 21, 2021
As unpleasant as the prospect may seem, planning for emergencies may mean the difference between life and death for the canine member(s) of your human family.
Simply put: if a situation is dire for you, it’s equally dire for your dog.
If you live in an area prone to such natural disasters as tornadoes, earthquakes or floods, plan accordingly. Determine in advance which rooms are “safe” rooms -- easily cleaned areas like utility rooms, bathrooms and basements. Because access to fresh water is critical, fill bathtubs and sinks ahead of time in case of power outages or other crises. In the event of flooding, take shelter in the highest part of your home, preferably in a room with high counters or shelves for your dog to lie on.
When first alerted to the approach of severe weather -- and the possibility of eventual evacuation -- ensure that your car’s tank is full, all essential fluids are topped off, and a high-power flashlight (with fresh batteries) is in the glove compartment. If you must evacuate, prepare for the worst-case scenario: think weeks, not days.
And being prepared includes a canine emergency evacuation kit equipped with a first aid kit; two weeks worth of dry dog food; bottles of water; food and water bowls; disposable cage liners and/or paper toweling; plastic poop bags; brush, hand sanitizer, liquid dish soap and disinfectant; treats, toys and chew toys, towels, and blankets.
Of critical importance are photocopies and/or USB of medical records and a waterproof container with a two-week supply of any medicine your dog requires (medications must be rotated out of the kit if close to their expiry dates); recent photos of your dog (should you be separated and have to print “Lost” posters); and an extra collar with updated ID tags, leash and harness, although microchipping your dog is the best precaution of all.
And, of course, a traveling crate or carrier (if more than one dog -- ideally one for each) with complete contact information attached.
While ensuring your dog’s safety, ensure your safety and that of your family’s as well by putting your own emergency plan in place. Tailor your emergency “kit” to meet your own specific needs, but ensure that your car is equipped with: a first aid kit; several gallons of water; non perishable foods, protein bars, etc.; a cell phone with chargers; a battery operated radio; flashlights and batteries; a multi-purpose tool, duct tape, scissors and whistle; sanitation and personal hygiene items; hand sanitizers and baby wipes; protective clothing, footwear and emergency blankets; maps(s) of the area; extra money and medications; copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance
policies); extra house and car keys, and family and emergency contact information.
Forewarned, as they say, is forearmed. And planning ahead helps dog owners keep cool heads while keeping their dearest dogs safe at the same time.
Article by Nomi Berger. Nomi is the bestselling author of seven novels, one work of non-fiction, two volumes of poetry, and hundreds of articles. She lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada with her adopted Maltese, Mini, and has been writing as a volunteer for animal rescue groups in Canada and the U.S.A. since 2013.