In light of the Oroville evacuation order given last night due to flooding risks from the dam’s emergency spillway, we at Woodland Vet, like many facilities in the area, have received a large influx of calls from people looking for a place for their pet to stay while they evacuate the area. While we are happy to offer the option of our pet hotel, it also got me thinking – what is the protocol for evacuating pets? How can you or I prepare for such an emergency here? After doing a little research, I found a number of helpful tips from the American Red Cross:

The best way to protect your household (and your pets) is to have a disaster plan. Being prepared can make the difference in saving their lives!
In the event of a disaster, if you must evacuate, the most important thing you can do to protect your pets is to evacuate them too. If it’s not safe for you to stay behind, then it’s not safe to leave pets behind either. It is best to prepare now, so you know how to best care for your furry friends when the unexpected occurs.

Know a Safe Place to Take Your Pets

  • Local and state health and safety regulations do not permit the Red Cross to allow pets in disaster shelters. (Service animals are allowed in Red Cross shelters.)
  • Contact hotels and motels outside your local area to check their policies on accepting pets and restrictions on number, size and species. Ask if “no pet” policies can be waived in an emergency. Keep a list of “pet friendly” places, including phone numbers, with your disaster supplies.
  • Ask friends, relatives or others outside the affected area whether they could shelter your animals in case of an emergency.
  • Make a list of boarding facilities and veterinarians who could shelter animals in an emergency; include 24-hour phone numbers.
  • Ask local animal shelters if they provide emergency shelter or foster care for pets during a disaster.

Assemble a Pet Emergency Preparedness Kit

Keep your pet’s essential supplies in sturdy containers that can be easily accessed and carried. For example, a duffle bag or covered trash containers work well. Your pet emergency preparedness kit should include:

  • Medications and current medical records (stored in a waterproof container) and a First Aid kit.
  • Sturdy leashes, harnesses, and/or carriers to transport pets safely and ensure that your animals can’t escape.
  • Current photos of your pets in case they get lost. You should also have your pets tagged and microchipped, and a copy of your registration papers and proof of ownership with these photos. Here’s a great sheet where you can input all of your pet’s info:
  • Food, drinkable water, bowls, cat litter/pan, and manual can opener.
  • Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to foster or board your pets.
  • Pet bed or toys if easily transportable – creature comforts may help them to relax, as being out of the home in an unfamiliar place can be stressful for them.

PetMD’s list of the top ten things you need in a pet emergency kit:

Help Emergency Workers Help Your Pets

The ASPCA recommends using a rescue sticker alert to let people know that pets are inside your home. Here’s where you can order one from them for free (allow about 6-8 weeks for delivery): , although there are many different varieties listed online.

Make sure it is visible to rescue workers, and that it includes the types and number of pets in your household and your veterinarian’s phone number.

If you must evacuate with your pets (and if time allows) write “EVACUATED” across the stickers so rescue workers don’t waste time looking for them.

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