I confess, I’m mystified by reports I keep seeing of pets tied or chained to trees or fences and left to the mercy of the weather during the recent hurricanes. What are the people responsible thinking? What scenario do they envision — that somehow the dog will ride out the storm from his safe spot anchored to a tree, battered by gale-force winds and driving rain, unable to get away?
While I do try not to be judgemental, no animal found in those conditions should ever be returned to the people responsible. No. Animal. Ever.
The heartbreak of having to flee and being unable to take your pet with you is one I can only imagine in my nightmares. There must be situations where that is true. But. Even in that last-case scenario, tying the animal down is unbelievable cruel. Mind-numbingly heartless.
And a reminder to the rest of us before we judge — what plans have we made for our own pets? There are a lot of things that can happen besides hurricanes. Earthquakes, wildfires and other natural disasters. Man-made disasters such as gas pipe ruptures and overturned freight trains. Wherever you live, there is the outside chance that you might have to pick up stakes at least temporarily and go. What plans have you made for the pets who depend on you?
A therapist once explained to me that the worst stress she knew of was the feeling of helplessness. Doing something, however small, about a stressful situation reduced the stress. With that in mind, why not make plans for your evacuation, and your pets? Here are some questions to get you started:
- What’s your evacuation plan? Following a suggestion, I looked up where we live and work, and what the likely evacuation routes will be for the most likely problem (here that would be flooding). I picked a rendezvous point for our family members that is likely to stay above water. Communications may be out, or jammed, during an emergency. Have a place to meet in case you’re separated.
- Get those kits ready. Go to a thrift store or yard sale and find a backpack. Put basics in it like matches in a tin, a can opener, a first aid kit, and other essentials (like a couple of pairs of underwear and socks — if you have to evacuate, put them into a ziploc plastic bag). One for each family member, including pets. Backpacks are good in case you have to walk somewhere.
- Have an evacuation packing list in the backpack you can follow if you need to. This can remind you to include medications, etc.
- Have a gallon of water per person (or pet), per day, for at least 3 days on hand.
- Have a spare leash in your pet’s evacuation kit, and a copy of his/her microchip information, license info and health record, in a ziploc plastic bag.
- Do you have a crate or carrier for your pet? In an emergency, you might have to crate your pet. Some hotels will be more willing to allow a pet in an emergency IF you have a crate and old sheets to cover their furniture.
- Don’t wait until the last minute! If your area is under evacuation, get out while it’s still safe to do so! I have had to evacuate. It’s scary. It’s difficult. It’s also your best chance for survival. And if you leave promptly, you will have time to take your pet with you.
- What’s your “Survivaversary?” Pick a date and put it in your calendar. Every year, check your kits, replace things that have expired. We use the expired jugs of water to water plants in our garden. Update information and be sure your kits are good to go.
More info on preparing your evacuation kits: