Do you ever lie in bed at night when your mind just starts to wander? Maybe you’re watching coverage of the devastation of a hurricane or a fire that ripped through a home in your city and that gets your mind racing. Do you wonder what you would do – how you would react – in such a situation?
Are you prepared to get you and your small animals to safe place – and quickly – in an emergency or a natural disaster?
Yes? Great! Keep reading, just in case there’s something you may have overlooked or even just for a quick refresher.
No? It’s time to start planning now because we never know when disaster will strike.
Your Small Pet's Emergency Kit
Get that emergency kit ready. Have one already? Yay! It’s still a good idea to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.
- Add photos of each of your small animals, your rabbit, guinea pig, chinchilla, or ferret, including microchip information, to the kit. The House Rabbit Society also recommends putting a picture of you with your small animals in the kit just in case you become separated.
- Keep a copy of your small animal’s veterinary records, including your vet’s phone and email address, in the kit. Need a way to organize all that? Get a free health records book download HERE.
- Write a description of each of your small animals. For example, “Midnight is a black dwarf rabbit with part of the top of his left ear missing. He’s a bit shy and may grunt and box when afraid. He’s prone to stasis when stressed and is on Metacam daily for arthritis as he is an elder bun of 11 years.” Be as thorough as necessary; your description may well be much longer than the sample one.
- Pack at least two weeks of food (pellets, hay, etc.) and bottled water – for both drinking and cleaning – for your small animals. Don't forget the treats!
- Bring an extra bowl and water bottle per small animal, just in case you need it.
- Include simethicone, oral syringes, Pedialyte, Critical Care for rabbits and any meds your small animals take regularly.
- Add litter, bedding, a carrier, and temporary housing, like an X-pen or a cage, for your small animal while you’re away from home.
- Place a towel or a blanket in the kit that you can use to place over the carrier if it is too cold.
- Don’t forget to keep a few of your small animal’s favorite toys and things to keep her busy and to help cope with the stress. (Although we all know nothing will help as much as your comforting words and touch.)
Keep Your ER Kit Up-to-Date
Things change so it’s important to periodically make sure your emergency kit is up-to-date. If you adopt a new small animal, add her picture and description.
Don’t forget that food can get old and stale and meds expire. So, every couple of months, refresh your supply of emergency food, water, and medication.
Wanted: Pet-Friendly Accommodation
The most stressful part of a vacation – or even moving – is a lot different for us than non-pet parents. We have to worry about finding a pet-friendly hotel, motel, or a rental apartment/home. Imagine that stress then multiply it by 10, 100, whatever number. The stress is just going to be way higher during an emergency.
Unfortunately, many evacuation centers don’t allow pets for sanitary reasons, although some did open their doors to pets and their parents during Hurricane Irma in Florida.
Pet-friendly hotels can get booked really fast, especially in an emergency. That’s why you want to plan ahead. Let’s say you live in a hurricane-prone area. Consider the potential evacuation routes. Then, go online or open the phone book - if your bunny hasn’t already chewed it – and make a list of all the pet-friendly hotels and motels in your area and along the evacuation route(s). Do the same even if you’re not in a hurricane-prone area. Know the pet-friendly accommodation around you and your state.
Print out the list of hotels, including addresses and phone numbers, in your emergency kit. That way, you’ll always have easy access to it in an emergency.
Other Options for Accommodation
Sometimes having your small animals and other pets remain with you in an evacuation shelter or a hotel just isn’t an option. But, leaving them behind to fend for themselves certainly isn’t an option either. The ASPCA recommends trying several different things, such as:
- Ask friends or family, not in your area, if they are able to care for your pets until you can return home.
- Contact local animal shelters and veterinarians and ask if they shelter pets during an emergency. Remember, do this now instead of rushing around at the last minute when spaces are going to fill really quickly.
Keep that old cliché "it’s better to be safe than sorry" in mind as you prepare your emergency kit. Be sure to keep it somewhere that’s easy to grab if you need to evacuate at a moment’s notice.