K-State veterinarian urges Kansans to include pets in emergency plans

Published: Mar. 10, 2022 at 1:07 PM CST
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MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) - As severe weather season approaches NE Kansas, veterinarians at Kansas State University have urged residents to include their pets in emergency plans.

As severe weather season approaches, Susan Nelson, veterinarian and clinician professor at the Kansas State University Veterinary Health Center, says to include pets in family emergency preparedness plans.

”Pets should never be left at home during an emergency evacuation,” Nelson said. “Creating a disaster plan for your pet entails the same steps taken to make your family plan.”

Nelson has recommended the following when crafting preparedness plans:

  • Know the disasters that your area is prone to. The type of disaster will dictate if sheltering at home or evacuating to find shelter elsewhere is necessary. In Kansas, Nelson said disasters include - but are not limited to - blizzards, ice storms, fires, floods, nuclear accidents, tornados, earthquakes and chemical spills.

”If you do need to leave your home, be aware that not all public shelters or hotels, relatives or friends will allow pets, so have several alternatives,” Nelson said.

  • Develop a checklist and make a pet evacuation kit. Nelson said to consider how to transport pets and where to go, as well as alternative routes to get to the destination in the face of impassable or closed roads.

”You should also have contact numbers for hotels/boarding facilities, relatives and your veterinarian in your kit that are stored in a water-proof bag,” she noted.

  • Include a pet first-aid kit and first-aid guidebook.
  • Have food sources ready like pop-top cans or small bags of dry food, as well as bottles of water to use for drinking or taking medicine. Nelson recommends at least 2-weeks worth of medication in a pet evacuation kit and one week of food and water. Rotate all items every few months for freshness.
  • Pack photocopies or a flash drive of medical records in water-proof bags, as well as pictures of you with your pet to provide proof of ownership, should you be separated.
  • Make sure your pet has identification such as a collar and tags or microchip, and the information is up to date.
  • Additional items to include are clean-up supplies, a flashlight, collapsible bowls, spoon, leash, litter and litter box, and smaller familiar items, such as toys or a blanket, which could help reduce stress on your pet.
  • Consider using a buddy system with neighbors in case you are not home to evacuate your pet and place a rescue alert sticker on your front window, which will show how many pets you have inside in case an in-home rescue is necessary.

”If you do evacuate with your pets and have time, write ‘EVACUATED’ across the sticker on the window,” Nelson said.

  • Practice your plan. For the best outcome, Nelson said it is important to teach both cats and dogs to come when called. She also recommends leaving a carrier sitting out so the sight of it does not scare off a pet, especially cats. Owners could even feed pets in the carrier to teach them it is a safe space.

”Know where your emergency kit is for quick access and see how long it takes to get everyone together and out of the house,” Nelson said. “Nobody wants to encounter a disaster, but being prepared will help mitigate some of the stress that can be experienced by you and your pets.”

Nelson also said while many of these tip are relevant to pets other than cats and dogs, more specific needs for birds, exotic pets, pocket pets, horses and livestock should be considered as well.

For more information about how to prepare animals for severe weather and other disasters, visit the following websites:

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