Create an Emergency Pet Evacuation Program

altWhile reading about the horrible devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy, I came upon some articles referencing people who were frantically searching for their lost or missing pets. This got me to thinking about how valuable it is to be prepared by creating an Emergency Pet Evacuation Plan for all of our pets.

Even though Hurricane Sandy was forecast well in advance, when the storm finally did hit all of the regions that had been bracing for it, the unprecedented power and force of it’s impact still left many unprepared and without a plan for how to care for their pets, in an emergency of this magnitude.

Many years ago I lived in a rural canyon area that had a huge equestrian presence.  Since we lived in a canyon, fires and flooding were always the biggest threat to our neighborhood. One year when a particularly large fire came through our canyon, I witnessed an amazing home grown volunteer horse rescue group pull up into our neighborhood. It was impressive to watch dozens of horse trailers, lined up on our streets in a very well organized effort to safely load, evacuate and relocate each and every horse in our neighborhood to an alternative temporary and safe location.

I did not own horses myself at that time, so I hadn’t been aware of this particular horse evacuation program, but I was very impressed to see how far a little advanced preparation can go, towards effectively keeping animals out of harms way in the event of a full scale emergency situation.

So with the recent sobering events of Hurricane Sandy, I was reminded of the fact that all of our pets rely solely on us, to devise a plan to keep them safe under any and all circumstances.

So with that idea freshly in mind, now’s a good time to evaluate what plans are in place to take care of your pets in your absence or if an emergency comes up where you cannot reach your pets in your neighborhood or home under emergency or evacuation conditions.

Begin by asking these Questions about Forming an Emergency Pet Evacuation & Procedures Plan:

  • Have I assigned a friend, neighbor or pet sitter as a designated alternate in my absence, who knows my pet and has key or gate access to them?
  • If I own livestock, or large animals who are housed in barns or corrals, what means of transport could be used to safely evacuate them in a quick and efficient manner?
  • Am I aware of who the local veterinarians are, who might act as temporary volunteer shelters for dogs, cats, birds, etc. in the event of an emergency?
  • Are there local pet shelters in our area who will temporarily house animals in an emergency situation?

Things you can do to begin organizing a Neighborhood Pet Evacuation Association:

  • If you have an HOA (Homeowner’s Association) in your community, suggest appointing an Emergency Animal Coordinator through your HOA, who will work with your community on developing a reliable plan and means of communication by compiling, providing and distributing a comprehensive list of email addresses and cell phone numbers that would facilitate a means for quickly contacting everyone in the neighborhood in the event of an emergency.
  • If you do not have an HOA in your community, coordinate with a friend or neighbor who you believe might be a good candidate to help you to spearhead a Pet Emergency Committee & Organization for your neighborhood.
  • Once a Pet Emergency Committee has been appointed, send out notices in your neighborhood to hold a meeting for every homeowner and pet owners to attend, so you can all brainstorm ideas, network, implement an emergency notification process and procedures outline that will be customized to the needs of your particular neighborhood.

So while unfortunately, we can’t undo all the damage and losses that have occurred from the recent tragic events caused by Hurricane Sandy, we can use these events as education and a means to better prepare ourselves for safeguarding our pets from any future disasters in our own areas .

Our hearts and prayers go out to all those on the East Coast who have lost loved ones or been devastated by the havoc, destruction and loss of life resulting from Hurricane Sandy.