How can I prepare for natural disasters?
Hearing about the human and animal suffering caused by Hurricane Katrina has been absolutely heartbreaking. I live in an area that is prone to earthquakes. Do you have any advice on disaster preparedness for pet owners?
John, Los Angeles
It's not possible to be prepared for every contingency that can occur during a natural disaster. However, there are several steps that I recommend to help keep pets safe during emergencies.
Start by preparing a kit that contains a week's supply of food, water, and, if applicable, medications for each pet. Keep the kit in a convenient place, where it will be readily accessible in the event of a natural disaster.
Purchase a carrier for each pet in the family. Carriers for cats and small dogs can be purchased at most pet stores. Airline crates for large dogs are slightly harder to find, but are available through many stores and on the internet. In times of crisis, your pet will be much safer inside a carrier or crate.
Microchip your pet. Microchips are the easiest and most reliable means of permanently identifying cats and dogs. If you are separated from your pets during an emergency, a microchip is your best bet for being reunited.
Finally, in the event of an evacuation, take your pets with you if possible. Unfortunately, this option was not available to many of Katrina's victims. However, your pets will always be safest if they are with someone who loves them.
I wish to extend my deepest sympathies to the many thousands of people and animals whose lives have been affected by Katrina.