With all of the natural disasters throughout the US this summer, this is would be a good time to start thinking about an evacuation plan with your animals in mind. Have a “pet bug out bag” for each animal, keeping to the essentials as you don’t want to carry extra weight and baggage. (A “bug out bag” is usually a backpack with emergency essentials in it.) The rule of thumb is to have enough supplies for a 48-72 hour period for each animal. You should include:
- leashes, crates, halters, collars, or other restraining devices to control the animal
- dry food (canned adds extra weight), and treats
- water, bowls (collapsible takes up less space)
- a few toys as stress relievers
- any medication that the animal may require
- a copy of vaccination and medical records
- a copy of registration papers if the animal is registered
- have some form of identification on each animal
- have current quality photos of each animal (preferably with you in the picture too) in your personal bug-out bag to help make a positive identification in case the animals somehow become separated from you
- have a list of phone numbers and addresses for veterinarians, boarding kennels, or stables in personal bug-out bag also
- make a first-aid kit or purchase one to keep readily available.
- use a waterproof bag or container for any papers or medication
Know where you can take your animals, and make sure to have a second or even third place to go in case the first one is full or has been evacuated. If you work, make arrangements with neighbors or someone else who could take over in case you can’t get back to your house during an evacuation. If you have enough warning, call ahead to make sure you can bring your animals to the location you plan to go to.
Be cognizant of what your animal may require that is not listed above. Obviously, those with large animals will have to consider other options for water and food, unless they have some way of packing hay and 50 gallon drums of water on a trailer. You may have no choice but to open up the gates and hope to see them later. With horses and mules and some other animals, you can put on identification by placing break-away halters or maybe a collar with identification tags on them. Cattle should have brands and ear tags, sheep and goats can also have ear tags. You can also use a marker to put a temporary brand or identification on them, as halters and collars can break off or be taken off. (Note: nylon halters can melt into your animals face if it gets too hot.)
To further make any emergency evacuation easier, if at all feasible, do some practice drills with your family and your animals. Get your animals use to being in the vehicle or whatever type of transportation you plan to use, even walking. Have the pet bug out bags ready to go and close to the door that you will be vacating the house through. Make it a habit to hang leashes where they will be readily available. If you will be using a crate to transport your animals, have your pet bug out bags stored in it by the door so everything will be together and you will not have to spend frantic minutes trying to locate anything. With livestock that is halter broke, make sure halters and lead ropes are easily accessible and you have enough for each animal, plus an extra or two in case one breaks.
Remember, if you plan ahead and are prepared, you will be able to handle an emergency with much less panic than if you had not planned at all.