All of the animals except for man know that the principle business of life is to enjoy it.
– Samuel Butler

A survey by Starwood Hotels & Resorts supports Disaster Ready People’s view that your pets should be an integral part of your disaster planning. The survey estimated that of the 62 million dog owners in the U.S., 78% considered them to be an “equal member” of the family. We can see no reason why families with dogs would feel any differently than those with cats, horses, birds, or any other creature. When it comes to disaster readiness, pets require no less attention and consideration that the human memeber of your family. For that reason we have dedicated an entire section to the care and protection of you pet.

In addition to identifying the necessary staples for pet survival, some measures under consideration in this section are designed specifically to keep you and your pet safe and will require some preaction™ on your part. For example, your evacuation plans will require that you factor-in which facilities welcome pets, determine if you can function within possible restriction or limitations they might impose and establish where such facilities are located (see suggestions at the end of this section). Additionally, if circumstances require that emergency personnel be summoned to your residence, steps should be taken to ensure the protection and rescue of both you and your pet while ensuring the protection of those who come to your aid. So, let’s get started with some tools and tips on how pets can be included in your disaster planning.

Emergency Services at Your Home

If a fire breaks out in your home the decision to include your pet in your evacuation is a no-brainer. But it is important to prepare for such an event whether you are home or away. If your pets are free to move throughout your house they may become frightened by sirens, noises, the unfamiliar actions of responders or the strangers who are responding to the emergency. As a result, pets may hide under furniture or show aggressive behavior toward those assisting with the response. In some cases, when plans are not made in advance, responders have to make split-second decisions. They may be required to delay their services to manage a pet, or worse, remove the threat of the aggressive or frantic pet before they can begin!

As with most home-entry emergency situations, your doors will be left open to allow for the free flow of personnel and/or equipment. This poses the risk of your pet leaving your home to face additional harm in the immediate environment or to those responding to the emergency. Proper planning for these types of emergency situations plays an integral role in keeping everyone safe and will require regular review.

For the safety of the responders and your pets, we recommend the following:

1. Post a “Pet Notification Decal” (see forms that accompany this section) at each entry to your home, stable or barn where it will be easily visible to emergency responders. This form notes the number and type of pets and where they can be located within the structure. Make a special notation if any of your pets are typically contained or crated so they can be easily retrieved. With this information responders can immediately dispatch animal control to assist with the safe removal of you animals.

If you anticipate your pet will show aggression toward strangers it is very important to note such information on the decal. Be sure to include the name and telephone number of someone who knows your pet and lives nearby. It is imperative this person understand they may be called upon to provide care for your pet.

2. Post an “Emergency Pet Information Card” (see forms that accompany this section) on the inside of each entry door so you, or your emergency contact, can be notified to quickly come and assume care for your animal/s. NOTE: This information should not be visible to strangers.

3. Leave a leash, gentle leader or rope for each pet near the entry door of your home or barn. This will enable emergency responders to easily and quickly gain control of your pets and to either remove them or keep them restrained until you or your designee can arrive to care for them.

4. If during a major disaster you and your pets have successfully evacuated, make a notation to that effect on the “Pet Notification Decal.” This informs rescuers that your pets have been safely removed and allows them to focus their attention and resources on those who need assistance.

Please click here for the Rescue My Pet Form

Next>> Month 8: Important Papers for Pets