What is your Pet Evacuation Plan?

Residents of Hawaii woke up to a nightmare on January 13th; a notification informing them that an emergency was about to take place.  Fortunately, this was a false alarm, and after an hour of scrambling everyone was told it was a mistake and to go about their day.  This was a wake-up call, though, since many people had no idea what to do in case of an emergency.

This made many people wonder; given such a short time, what should they do in an emergency and would they be able to react appropriately?  In some case, emergencies leave less than an hour to respond, and some happen when people are out of their house.  If an emergency were to happen, what should residents of Midland do, especially those with pets?

Here are some tips and preparations for your pet to keep in mind should a similar text come to your phone:

Where You Should Go:

The best laid plans are those that are never used, and preparation is key when being ready for an emergency.  Preparedness, in terms of being ready for an emergency, results in lots of research and planning.  In Midland, some types of emergencies are more likely than others, so look at what emergencies could occur before starting to plan.  Flooding and fires in the area require evacuation and have historically happened before, but will typically come with some warning.  The only type of emergency that would likely not give any warning would be a chemical or biological disaster, which are very rare.

First, look into area shelters.  While these locations change based on the type of emergency, they will typically be local community centers like nearby churches, gyms, and schools.  When notified of the emergency, the location of the evacuation center will also be added.  Most of these locations do not allow pets to come with people into the shelters due to public health concerns, unless the animal is also a service animal.  

It is not recommended that owners abandon animals or tie them up outside should they need to be evacuated.  If it is absolutely impossible for the pet to come with the owner during evacuation, FEMA recommends leaving them loose in the house with plenty of access to food and water.  This means filling up the bathtub with water and opening all the doors in the house, letting the pet choose the safest place for them.  Food should be given, in bulk, in an accessible part of the house.  On the door to the house, a paper should be taped listing the number and names of the pets inside, some details, and include both your vet and your contact information.  Abandoning pets in a home is not recommended, but sometimes cannot be avoided.  Pets should never be tied up outside during harsh weather or in an emergency.

It is important to keep a list of hotels accepting animals outside your geographic area that you can evacuate to with your pet.  Follow this link to search for Pet Friendly Hotels.  If you know you will be unable to carry the expense of a hotel for a long stay in case of an emergency, check in with relatives or friends outside your area you can stay with in case of emergency.  Likewise, develop a relationship with a trustworthy neighbor and exchange keys, with the understanding they will take care of your pet in case you are kept out of the area.  This way there will be no frantic googling for where to bring you and your pets if the worst should occur.

What You Should Bring:

Think of all the items you need every week to care for your pet.  In addition to items to care for yourself and your family, the family cat or dog often requires special supplies.  Always have a package of items you can set aside that will be ready without you having to think.  The package should have a list of items to grab that are not already inside.  This will save you from having to make a mental list when you have five million things to think about.  

Take a look at this list and get to packaging, add in items you know your pet can’t live without:

Identification (vaccine papers, pet licenses, tags)

Picture of you with your pet

Extra harness and leash

Collapsible crate


Pee pads, litter, newspaper for bathroom needs

Records of feeding schedule, health, routine, medications, behavior

Veterinary records and contact information

Three-day supply of water and food in a secure container

Manual can opener

Toys, treats, and bedding

List of items to grab if they are not already in the pack

This is not a complete list, but one to start with and add to when putting together your pets’ emergency pack.  You should prepare a separate pack for your family, and check both regularly for updating and refreshing.  Keep in mind that people are often told they will be evacuated for a short time, when in reality the time away from home is a week or longer.  For a printable PDF of a checklist put out by the Centers For Disease Control, follow this LINK or click on the picture above.

Why Worry About This Now:

Emergency preparedness can be the last thing on your mind, especially if everyday concerns take up most of your headspace.  The nature of emergencies, though, is they pop up whenever you least expect it.  The majority of deaths in natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina, were due to homeowners refusing to evacuate.  This was usually because the people had pets with nowhere to go.  The number of abandoned pets, as well, was staggering.  With planning for the future, no pet has to be left in the situation to fend for themselves, either with their owners in evacuation zones or by themselves.

Currently, there is no legislation in Michigan mandating emergency planning for pets.  In response to Hurricane Katrina, the Department of Homeland Security recommended all states design a response program for evacuation of pet owners by requiring all areas to have a shelter accepting pets, which thirty states complied with.  Called the PETS act, this has yet to be addressed in Michigan.  This leaves the burden of emergency planning on pet owners.

Paula’s Pet Sitting is aware that this gap in planning exists, and, for all current pet clients, offers wellness visits and emergency care in the event of an emergency.  Despite this support, it is always recommended to have a plan in place in case the worst happens.  Whether you are trapped away from home while traveling, or you need to get out of town fast with your pet, you will be grateful for laying plans ahead of time.  

If you are interested in setting up services with Paula’s Pet Sitting, please contact us today to set up your free consultation!

Blog author Lauren Pescarus is an admitted Cat Person who admires all pets from afar.  She lives at home in Romania with her husband, and loves to buy things for the pets she will soon convince her lucky spouse to bring home.  For more information about Lauren’s writing services, follow this LINK.


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