Seeing Cyclone Debbie on the news this week has brought back memories of watching the news after Cyclone Yasi. Seeing all the displaced pets or pets taken from the arms of their owners to be left behind during evacuation was heartbreaking.
Yasi truly brought to light that pets are a part of our families, and need special consideration during the evacuation process. What happened during Yasi does not have to happen again.
Take some time to prepare for your pets' evacuation and remember, disaster plans don't have to be difficult or complicated. Some of the most simple plans can be the most effective.
The Australian Veterinary Association recommends the following:
1. Have a pet carrier for transportation and temporary housing. Be sure your pet's carrier is large enough for your dog or cat to stay in comfortably for a few days. If you evacuate to a shelter, your pets will have to spend most of their time in their crates. Ensure you pack their leash and collar as well. Cat owners should also plan on creating temporary litter boxes. These can be simply put together with a small cardboard box, plastic bags for liners, and litter.
2. Have a disaster preparedness kit. Include at least a week's worth of food and fresh water, any medications your pet is on and a current prescription, as well as any health and medical records. The kit should also include a photo of you and your pets for identification purposes, a list of local Pet Sitters, friends and relatives that can house you, a local veterinarian, and first aid supplies. Completing your pet's profile on PetCloud and printing out their profile and placing in a sealed plastic cover will help - however if there is a power outage or phone lines are down, you may not be able to access the internet to access your pet's details.
3. Have proper identification for your pets. During a disaster or evacuation, the likelihood of being separated from your pets is much higher, and proper identification is the only way to ensure you'll be reunited. Identification tags should have your name and phone number as well as the name of friends or relatives who live outside of your area. Luggage identification tags make good temporary tags for your pet during a disaster. Your pet should also have a microchip with updated contact information.
4. Have a backup accommodation plan. In the event of an evacuation, know where you're going and how you'll get there with your pets. Always keep in mind that many of your local veterinary clinics and boarding facilities are equipped with generators and have the capability, knowledge, and dedicated staff to help protect your pets if taking them with you is not an option. A cyclone evacuation is often a stressful process and by making plans for your pets before a cyclone watch is issued, you can save time when it counts the most. Have a happy and healthy week with your fur-babies!
5. Keep your pets inside and when you do let them out check your fences/gates first
For more tips, head to the RSPCA Qld website and read their articles on storms