In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA) is urging pet owners to include pets in their disaster preparation plans. This couldn’t be timelier because September is National Disaster Preparedness Month, a call-to-action to prepare for all types of emergencies, and in this case, a destructive hurricane, tropical storm and catastrophic flooding.
Hurricane Harvey’s torrential rainfall on the southeastern, coastal areas of Texas, specifically the cities of Rockport, Corpus Christi and Houston, has claimed the lives of at least 14 people, displaced more than 30,000 residents and damaged thousands of homes. The flooding is expected to linger for several days, and the Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA) is urging pet owners to include pets in their disaster preparation plans. This couldn’t be timelier because September is National Disaster Preparedness Month, an awareness event that serves as a call-to-action to prepare for all types of emergencies, and in this case, a destructive hurricane, tropical storm and catastrophic flooding.
One of the key components of developing a disaster preparation plan is establishing an evacuation strategy, which involves determining how to get your pets safely out of the house and off the property and finding a safe place to stay. Many disaster shelters do not accept pets, so find one that does ahead of time or secure an alternative safe haven for your pets. Consider making arrangements for boarding in case of home destruction. In addition to dogs and cats, it is crucial to plan ahead and make sure farm animals and livestock are also accounted for.
Assembling a survival kit for each of your pets is essential. Just as humans need food, water and additional items such as medication, pets will need an ample supply of these things as well. In the kits, there should be at least seven days worth of food, water and medication, photos of pets for identification, proof of health care, emergency contact information and your veterinarian’s contact information. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has species-specific guides and resources available to the public to ensure you have all possible necessities.
It’s important to maintain an up-to-date contact information list with phone numbers for the veterinarian, fire department, police station, animal shelter and the nearest relative or friend who could shelter your pet. Making sure your pet is properly identified is also imperative. If your pet does happen to get lost during an evacuation or a disaster, you will have a much better chance of finding them if they are microchipped and tagged.
“Having your pet microchipped is critical,” said TVMA Disaster Preparedness Committee Chair Heather Timmermans, DVM, who is head of the emergency and critical care department at MedVet Dallas. “That way if you’re separated from your pet, then we can identify who the owner is and get in contact with them. Making sure that information is up to date is also very important.”