May 11th is National Disaster Preparedness Day. Living in California means enjoying its sunny beaches, diverse cultures, and innovative cities. However, it also means preparing for natural disasters such as earthquakes, wildfires, and floods. For pet owners, ensuring the safety of their furry, feathered, or scaled friends during such events is paramount. Here’s how to prepare for a disaster if you’re a pet owner in the Golden State.

1. Create a Pet Emergency Kit

Prepare an emergency kit specifically for your pet, keeping it readily accessible in case you need to evacuate quickly. Your pet’s emergency kit should include:

  • Food and Water: Store at least a three-day supply of food and water for each pet, along with dishes and a manual can opener if you use canned food. Replace jugs of water every 6 months so it doesn’t get stale.
  • Medications and Medical Records: Keep an extra supply of your pet’s medications, along with a copy of their medical records in a waterproof container.
  • Collar with ID Tag, Harness, and Leash: Ensure your pet wears a collar with an ID tag at all times. Include an extra leash and harness in your kit.
  • Crate or Other Pet Carrier: Have a secure, comfortable carrier for each pet, labeled with your contact information. This is crucial for transport and may also serve as a familiar resting place for your pet.
  • Sanitation Supplies: Pack pet litter and a litter box if you have a cat, poop bags for dogs, and cleaning supplies.
  • A Recent Photo of Your Pet: In case you get separated, a photo will help with identification and prove ownership.
  • First Aid Kit: While a basic first aid kit is essential, consider adding pet-specific items like flea and tick prevention, antiseptic spray, and a pet first-aid reference book.

2. Plan Ahead

Knowing what to do before disaster strikes can significantly improve the chances of safety for you and your pet:

  • Identify a Safe Place to Stay: Not all emergency shelters accept pets, so research pet-friendly hotels, motels, or boarding facilities both in and outside your local area.
  • Microchip Your Pet: A microchip can permanently identify your pet to help reunite you if you get separated. Ensure your contact information is up-to-date in the microchip registry.
  • Practice Evacuations: Regularly practice your evacuation plan with all family members to reduce stress and anxiety for your pet. Familiarize them with their carrier or vehicle travel to make evacuations smoother.
  • Stay Informed: Keep abreast of local news and warnings, especially during fire season or when other disaster risks are high. Get the SD Emergency app on your phone and sign up on Alert San Diego for phone updates.

3. During and After the Disaster

  • Never Leave Your Pets Behind: If it’s not safe for you, it’s not safe for them. Pets left behind can be injured, lost, or worse.
  • Keep Pets Under Control: Keep your pets in their carriers or on leashes during the evacuation. Stressful situations can cause pets to behave unpredictably.
  • Monitor Your Pet’s Well-Being: Once you are in a safe location, monitor your pet for stress or health issues. Keep them as calm as possible and avoid exposing them to loud noises or unfamiliar settings.

As your pet sitters, we are not equipped to take your pet if the need arises while you are traveling. Please arrange for a trusted friend, family member or neighbor to take your pet in an emergency and make sure your sitter has that contact information (Claws and Paws clients have access to a private online client portal with sections for all emergency contacts). 

Preparing for a disaster as a pet owner in California requires a bit of foresight and planning, but the peace of mind it brings is invaluable. By creating an emergency kit, planning ahead, and knowing how to care for your pet during and after a disaster, you can ensure their safety and well-being, no matter what Mother Nature throws your way.