As pet parents, we all understand the importance of providing our pets with the proper nutrition, exercise, and care in order to ensure their health and happiness. Often overlooked, however, is the significance of planning for your pet’s safety and care in the event of an emergency. Here in Central Texas, we know the threats and dangers associated with fires, tornadoes, and flooding; and although many families are prepared for these storms, and may have detailed and practiced plans in place if a disaster were to strike, these plans frequently do not include specific instructions for making sure the family pet is looked after. In light of National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day on May 13, and the start of the summer storm season and wildfires, we at Texas Humane Heroes in partnership with Hill’s Pet Nutrition’s Food, Shelter & Love® program want to make sure that families think to include their pets and are well-versed in the easy steps that can help keep pets safe in an emergency. Pet parents should follow seven quick steps to confirm your pet’s safety during an emergency:
- Ensure your pet can be identified by either a microchip or collar ID tag and that contact information is up-to-date.
- Prepare a “Pet Emergency Go-Kit” of pet supplies that is readily accessible in an emergency.
- Display a pet rescue decal on your front door or window to let first responders know there is a pet in the house. Include your veterinarian’s contact information.
- Learn where your pet likes to hide in your house when frightened. Finding your pet quickly will help you evacuate faster.
- Identify a location to take your pet if you need to leave your immediate area. Keep in mind that disaster shelters for people may not be open to pets. Scout hotels and motels with pet-friendly policies and ask relatives or friends if they could house you and your pet.
- Carry a picture of your pet in the event of separation.
- If you need to evacuate, consider taking a pet carrier or crate for transport and safe-keeping.
The Hill’s Disaster Relief Network is positioned to respond quickly and supply pet food to communities in need. The first-of-its-kind network was established in 2013 as an extension of the Hill’s Food, Shelter & Love® program. Hill’s Food, Shelter & Love® has provided more than $280 million worth of Hill’s® Science Diet® brand pet foods to over 1,000 shelters in the United States and helped more than 8 million pets find new homes.
In the past few years, the Hill’s Disaster Relief Network delivered free food to shelters and veterinary clinics across the country in response to more than 40 major incidents, including floods, fires, tornadoes and a mudslide. The network responded to 16 emergencies across the United States in 2016, including the severe flooding in Louisiana, where it donated 75,000 pounds of free pet food.
“Being prepared is the best step families can take to ensure they, and their pets, are ready to face an emergency,” said Joann Fuller, who oversees Hill’s Pet Nutrition Food, Shelter & Love® program. “If sounding the call for proactive planning can help keep even a relatively small number of pets from experiencing the kind of fear and hunger we see during times of disaster, it will be worth every bit of this effort.”
Families looking to learn more about disaster preparedness and safety, as well as the Hill’s Disaster Relief Network, can visit www.HillsPet.com/PetPrepared.