This time last week I was making my way over to the West coast of the South Island as part of the team from Animal Evac that was deployed to assist with keeping pets safe in the flooding that was occurring in Westport. It was an amazing experience to be part of, working as a team with MPI and HUHA to provide emergency sheltering for pets whose owners had to evacuate from their homes. The days were super long and busy but rewarding. I spent a lot of time stationed at the evacuation centre set up for people, talking to owners about how best we could help them and listening to their concerns for their pets, family and homes. We helped with organising their pets to be transported to the emergency pet shelter that we had set up, and you could see the relief on peoples faces when you gave the the help that they needed. The picture is of me returning a little kitten named Popcorn back to her family. Popcorn had only been with her family for 4 days! Her owners were very grateful for all the help, seeing the little girls face light up when we brought her kitten back was priceless!
One of the things that stood out to me in this experience is the need to have a plan in place for not only ourselves but our pets too. We are all told about having a grab bag ready for ourselves if we need to leave in a hurry. Consider putting one together for your pets too. Make sure you have a carrier cage or crate for each pet you own, and a lead for each dog. Having a crate ensures a safe place for your pet to stay. The emergency shelter we built consisted of entirely crates to house all the cats. Having some grooming/cleaning products is something that can easily be forgotten. Your pet may need to be washed if being in contaminated flood water, keeping a clean towel or 2 ready to go is great to have as well. Don't forget things like poo bags for your dog & gloves as well as access to rubbish bags to. You could end up anywhere so having a copy of your pets vaccination record and microchip number helps, consider keeping a photocopy (in a sealed zip-lock bag) with your pets grab bag so that it is something that is not missed. Another great idea is to make sure you carry a recent photo of your pet, if you loose your mobile phone would you still have access to one? Put one in the same bag with the vaccine and microchip details. That way if you do end up in the unfortunate situation of loosing your pet you have something on hand on to give organisations such as the SPCA to help find them again. If your pet is on any medications, or a special diet keep some ready to go. Lastly just like us, pets like to have familiar things around them. Think about things such as a blanket from their bed, and a favourite toy.
After seeing first hand how being prepared for an emergency can make such a difference. I will be taking some time to make sure I have all the things I have mentioned above in place that I need. We are living in a world where natural disasters are on an increase, so it is not a matter of 'if' we will experience one it is more a case of 'when'.
What are you going to do to help make sure your prepared?
If you are looking for more rescores on being prepared for an emergency check out Animal Evac