Creating a Bug-Out Bag
for Man’s Best Friend
During Hurricane Katrina, thousands of family pets were displaced, separated from their owners and left to fend for themselves.
These weren’t heartless pet owners. In fact, 44 percent of people who refused to evacuate and chose to weather the storm did so because they didn’t have a plan for evacuating their pets. In many cases, during the aftermath of the storm, people were forcibly evacuated, but were not allowed to bring their animals.
These weren’t heartless pet owners. They were unprepared pet owners.
Since Katrina, state and federal mandates require that emergency evacuation plans have a contingency for pets. But don’t let that make you complacent. Evacuation plans can be like battle plans; they don’t necessarily survive the first encounter with the enemy.
When a major storm hits, government agencies have proven they don’t have the resources or the organization to meet the needs of the people. Your pet won’t even be an afterthought for them.
And that means, you are responsible for setting up a preparedness plan that takes your pet’s needs into account.
Shelter in Place With Your Pet
In most emergencies, you won’t have to evacuate. If you can stay at home, you should.
Unless there’s an imminent threat to the safety of your home, sheltering-in-place is preferable to evacuation. Your home is familiar to you. And you have supplies there that you probably wouldn’t be able to take with you if you left.
To keep your pets comfortable, consider the same things you do for your family.
Food: If you follow my newsletter, you know I recommend you store at least 30 days of non-perishable food for every member of your household. Make sure you count your pets in your planning stages. You should have 30 days of non-perishable food on hand for your pets, too.
Water: When figuring out how much water to store for your family, don’t forget about your pets. They need water to drink, too. Dogs and cats need about an ounce of water per pound of body weight every day.
Medicine: Does your pet have prescriptions? If your pet relies on medication for good health, ask your vet about setting up a back-up supply. Let them know that you’re putting together an emergency preparedness plan as recommended by the Department of Homeland Security and you want to set up a 30-day backup supply of your pet’s medications.
Fitness: Like people, pets that are in good physical shape will do better during a crisis than their overweight counterparts. Walk your dog regularly. Play with your cats. If your pets are overweight, talk to your doctor about how much you might alter their daily diet to get them to a healthier place.
Evacuating With Pets
Evacuating with pets is more complicated than evacuating with just people.
When you’re leaving with just people, you can choose to stay at any hotel, motel, shelter, or relatives house that’s available. When you’re bugging out with pets, you’ll need to put a little extra planning into where you’ll go.
Before a disaster ever comes your way, scout out pet-friendly hotels in the locations you’re likely to evacuate to. Keep a list of possible places and their contact information handy – a document on your computer works, but a hard copy that you keep with your own bug-out documents is better. It doesn’t require power or battery life to view the information. If you decide you have to evacuate, you’ll know exactly where to try to get a room.
Invest in pet carriers, especially if you have cats. Most dogs will happily hop into the backseat of your car. Cats are a little less excited about road trips. You don’t want to waste precious minutes trying to corral your cats into your car. Putting them in a pet carrier will make it easier. Plus, if you end up at a shelter instead of a pet-friendly hotel, they may require your animals be in carriers.
Make sure your pets are easily identified. Having an ID chip placed under your pet’s skin may seem a little creepy, but it can be the one thing that reunites you with your furry loved one if you get separated. Otherwise, get a custom ID tag for your pet’s collar. Put two phone numbers on it, so that whoever finds your lost pet has options when it comes to locating you. Write the same phone numbers on the carrier itself, too.
Finally, put together a bug-out bag for your pet. Include a week’s worth of food, fresh water packets, pet medication, and their favorite chew toy. Add in a leash and halter and pet first aid kit. Slip a photo of your pet in there, too. If you do get separated, you’ll have a photo to show around.
If you’re a pet owner, you know how important your furry friend’s health and safety is to you. Don’t wait for a disaster to figure out how you’ll care for your pet in an emergency. Start preparing today and you’ll get one step closer to being ready for anything.
P.S. – Government agencies can NOT support you and your family during a real crisis, and they certainly can’t protect your pet. You must act immediately to start preparing for the worst… please read more here – right now.