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Evacuating Your Dog During a Disaster

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Many people live in areas prone to hurricanes, floods, fires and earthquakes, and prepare themselves for the possibility of evacuation, but forget about preparing for their beloved dogs. Keeping a “bug-out-bag” for your dog is very important for those of you who live in an area where you may have to evacuate in a hurry. Items you should have in your dog’s “ bug-out-bag” are:

  • Copies of Your dog’s vaccination records
  • First aid kit
  • A supply of food and water for at least 3 days ( a week’s supply is better)
  • Any medications you dog needs
  • Dog bowls
  • Poop bags
  • Camping gear
  • Portable dog bed
  • A favorite toy or chew bones
  • A crate big enough for your dog to stand up in

Make sure you dog is wearing proper identification with your phone number and or address. Take photos with your cell phone of your dog, its vaccination records, and any prescriptions and store them in a file on your phone for easy access.

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Have an evacuation plan on where you will be going, and a backup plan in case plan A does not work out. Some disaster shelters allow pets…….others do not. Find out before a disaster strikes which shelters allow pets and which ones do not. Remember Service Dogs are NOT pets and must be allowed into a shelter, but be sure to have you dog properly identified as a service dog to avoid confusion and delays. The same goes for hotels…….some allow pets and others do not……..but Service Dogs are always allowed by law.

If you must evacuate, take your pets with you. You can contact your local emergency-management office, animal shelter or animal-control office for advice and information about sheltering options. Or, visit one of these sites for pet-friendly hotels in your area:

Most Red Cross shelters do not allow dogs. If you are unable to bring your dog to a shelter with you, have a plan on where to send them. Some states such as Maryland have a Pet Sheltering Plan, which will activate when mass care evacuation centers open. National animal organizations such as VCA or ASPCA have also assisted in times of disaster                                                    

                                                  .service dog certification

If you need to locate a shelter for your dog during an emergency or disaster, listen to the radio/TV for instructions from local authorities, or contact the county emergency operations center for the location of a pet-friendly human shelter or other pet shelter for your pet.

If you are for any reason unable to take your pets with you, place an evacuation card outside of your home listing any dogs or other animals that have been left behind.

Keep your dog restrained when you are in a strange place. During an evacuation, you are nervous and upset and scared……..these high anxiety levels will be picked up by your dog and make them just as nervous, upset and scared and can cause them to bolt and run to try and get back home.

Even if disaster never strikes, you will rest easier knowing you and your dog are prepared.

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