Disaster Preparedness For Your Family and Pets

As pet parents, we all understand the importance of providing our pets with the proper nutrition, exercise and care in order to ensure their health and happiness. Often overlooked, however, is the significance of planning for your pet’s safety and care in the event of an emergency. Here in the Midwest, we know the threats and dangers associated with wildfires, tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, earthquakes, and flooding; and although many families are prepared for these storms, and may have detailed and practiced plans in place if a disaster were to strike, these plans frequently do not include specific instructions for making sure the family pets are looked after.

In light of National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day held each year in May, and the start of the summer storm season and wildfires, we at the New Albany Animal Shelter in partnership with Hills Pet Nutrition’s Food, Shelter & Love program want to make sure that families think to include their pets and are well-versed in the easy steps that can help keep pets safe in an emergency.

Pet parents should follow seven quick steps to confirm your pets safety during an emergency:

  • Ensure your pet can be identified by either a microchip or collar ID tag and that contact information is up-to-date.
  • Prepare a Pet Emergency Go-Kit of pet supplies that is readily accessible in an emergency.
  • Display a pet rescue decal on your front door or window to let first responders know there is a pet in the house. Include your veterinarians contact information.
  • Learn where your pet likes to hide in your house when frightened. Finding your pet quickly will help you evacuate faster.
  • Identify a location to take your pet if you need to leave your immediate area. Keep in mind that disaster shelters for people may not be open to pets. Scout hotels and motels with pet-friendly policies and ask relatives or friends if they could house you and your pet.
  • Carry a picture of your pet in the event of separation.
  • If you need to evacuate, consider taking a pet carrier or crate for transport and safe-keeping. The Hills Disaster Relief Network is positioned to respond quickly and supply pet food to communities in need. The first-of-its-kind network was established in 2013 as an extension of the Hills Food, Shelter & Love program. Hills Food, Shelter & Love has provided more than $280 million worth of Hills Science Diet brand pet foods to over 1,000 shelters in the United States and helped more than 8 million pets find new homes. In the past few years, the Hills Disaster Relief Network delivered free food to shelters and veterinary clinics across the country in response to more than 40 major incidents, including floods, fires, tornadoes and a mudslide. The network responded to 16 emergencies across the United States in 2016, including the severe flooding in Louisiana, where it donated 75,000 pounds of free pet food.
  • Being prepared is the best step families can take to ensure they, and their pets, are ready to face an emergency, said Joann Fuller, who oversees Hills Pet Nutrition Food, Shelter & Love program.  Sounding the call for proactive planning can help keep even a relatively small number of pets from experiencing the kind of fear and hunger we see during times of disaster, it will be worth every bit of this effort.

After helping with rescue teams after Hurricane Katrina, we saw the effects of a natural disaster first hand on families and their pets. Please prepare your family and pets to provide the best protection possible.

Families looking to learn more about disaster preparedness and safety, as well as the Hills Disaster Relief Network, can visit www.HillsPet.com/PetPrepared. To request assistance during an emergency, shelters can contact DisasterRelief@hillspet.com.