If you have pets, you should always have storm kits prepared for them. You should also have evacuation plans prepared with your pets in mind.
We always seem to run to the grocery store and buy bread and milk and toilet paper when we hear about a possible hurricane, nor'easter or snow storm, but you don't often hear about people flooding into the local pet store to stock up on food and supplies for their pets. We need to remember them in our storm prep, too. When you take on the responsibility of having a pet, you need to make sure you are prepared to provide for them at all times, too.
So, what kinds of things do you need to think of in preparing your pet for a storm?
First, of course, is the easiest: food and water. Never let yourself get low on pet food. You should always have at least an extra week worth of food on hand. (Personally, I don't even like to get that low, but that's just me.)
If your pet uses canned food, does it have a pop top, or does it need a can opener and, if so, do you have a manual one? (Remember, if the power goes out, that wonderful little electric one won't work.) Do you have bottled water, enough for a week or so, for your pet? If you have a cat, do you have extra cat litter? Do you have plenty of extra medication for your pet?
These are the necessary basics for if you will be able to stay in your home with your pet, but what happens if you need to evacuate?
Well, evacuating with your pet requires much more planning. This is something you should make plans for well in advance and not something that should be left for just days before the need arises.
Because of the area we live in and the number of times yearly the circumstance may arise, you should keep your “kit” prepared year-round. Now, obviously, you can't make up this kit and just leave it sit around year after year, but some of the items can be made into an actual kit and then be prepared with a list of items you need to gather at the moment. The kit will vary depending on the type of animal that you have.
So, let's start with small caged animals, such as hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, etc. Of course, you will need their cage. If a possible evacuation is coming, clean the cage as close to evacuation time as you can, so you start with a clean cage. Then have extra food, bedding, and water. You may also like to have a towel, blanket or sheet to be able to cover the cage with. Some extra toys or treats would also be helpful. If they require medication, have extra of that, too.
Cats are probably the next easiest. You will need a cage or carrier, or both. It is easiest to put your cat into a carrier to travel, but if you are evacuating to a shelter, you will need something large enough to be able to place a litter box in, so a crate would be helpful. You will need food and water and kitty litter, and a scoop and bags to dispose of the used litter. A few toys are also helpful, along with some sort of bed or blanket for the cat to curl up in.
You will also need food and water dishes. If you are feeding canned food, you will also need a spoon, and paper towels to clean the spoon. You will need a copy of your cat's vaccination records. If your cat requires medication, you will need that, and I recommend having some extra. It is also helpful to have a picture of you with your cat, in case it is needed for owner verification. Also, it is a good idea to have your cat microchipped, just in case.
Dogs — now, these are often more difficult. You will need ample food and water. You will need a properly fitting collar and leash. (I recommend two leashes, and not flexi-leashes.) If using canned food, you will need a can opener if they do not have pop-tops, a spoon, and paper towels to clean the spoon. I also recommend having a couple cans of canned pumpkin on hand (not pumpkin pie mix, but pure pumpkin). Canned pumpkin is helpful for dogs with diarrhea and/or constipation.
You will need dog bedding (take extra in case of soiling). You will need pick-up bags. You need a copy of your dog's vaccination records, and they must be up to date. I recommend a picture of you with your dog, for verification purposes. If your dog requires medication you need that, too.
You will need a crate for your dog. Most evacuation shelters require the pet to be contained. This is one reason to crate-train your dog. My dogs hardly ever stay in their crates, but they were trained to be in them when younger, and occasionally I place them in crates still, just to keep them use to spending time in there, in case there is ever a need for them to do it.
You will probably want to bring some treats for your dog, too. And don't forget your dog's food and water bowls. I would also recommend some sort of things to occupy your dog while it is in the crate, such as chewies or a Kong or the like. Your dog is going to be spending a lot of time in its crate, so it will need something to entertain itself.
Also, remember, your dog needs to be a properly socialized dog to be able to stay in the shelter. A dog that continually barks while in its crate will not be allowed to stay for very long. Also, a dog that shows any type of aggression will not be allowed to stay. This is aggression either toward people or other dogs. Also, remember there will be possibly other types of animals also staying at the shelter, such as cats and small animals. You need to be able to control your dog around all types of people and animals.
I keep a plastic file tote with all of my pets' veterinarian records in it. I have another plastic file tote with all of their medications and a few emergency first-aid supplies in it. I keep some bottled water in the house at all times. I have extra collars and leashes and extra dog bowls. I always have an ample supply of food, treats and toys on hand.
If it is rainstorms, you will want your rain gear, because you will need to take your dog outside to go to the bathroom. Likewise, snow gear for snowstorms. Flashlights and extra batteries are also good to have.
Another helpful item is a card attached to your pet's crate. It should have your pet's name, your name and cell phone number, your veterinarian's name and phone number, an emergency contact person's information, and any important medical information regarding your pet — and a picture of you with your pet is also great.
This way, if something happens, and you and your pet become separated for some unforeseen reason, at least someone can try to provide necessary care for your pet (if your pet needs particular medications, diabetic shots, food allergies, etc.). The card can even list the brand of food you feed, in what quantity and when.
Another thing is to make sure you have some cash on hand and a full tank of gas. I also always like to have a basic tool kit, jumper cables and a couple of blankets in my car at all times. Cash comes in handy if power goes out and you need to buy something. Blankets in vehicle are nice if you get stranded somewhere.
Cheryl Loveland is a semi-retired dog groomer. Her pet menagerie has shrunk to Bo, her bloodhound; Noel, her bichon frisée and Bootsie, her cat. She currently resides between Keymar, Md., and Millsboro and Selbyville. She is currently not doing rescue work but hopes to resume that when she returns to a more permanent residence. She is a member of Colonial Bloodhound Club and membership chairperson for Misspillion Kennel Club in Milford. She also still helps out at a local boarding kennel in the Bethany Beach area. She has been working with all varieties of pets since she was a child growing up in Montgomery County, Md. She may be reached at email@example.com.