Pet Points: Remember pets when preparing for disasters

Epic hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes and wildfires have caused heartbreak and untold suffering this summer. Although our area is not prone to major disasters, we are at risk for house fires, floods, chemical spills, pollution and unstable hillsides. The loss of basic utilities can make life unbearable. Preparing now and including pets in the plan for an emergency event may be lifesaving.

The Pennsylvania and American Veterinary Medical Association have fact sheets to help. Rescue alert window stickers will help emergency responders know the type of pets and how many there are at the residence. All pets’ collars should have identification along with license and rabies tags. Microchips are also very important and can be used to trace a pet in the event a collar is lost. Always make sure the chip number has been properly registered with the company database and updated if phone numbers change or owners move.

Many people in evacuation areas will not leave if a pet cannot accompany them. Having a carrier for small pets makes transport safe. Extra leashes and harnesses should always be quickly available for larger dogs. Phone numbers should be readily available for animal emergency facilities, veterinarians, boarding kennels and animal shelters.

A waterproof folder for pet paperwork is a good idea. Patient records and veterinary invoices can help track what has been done medically. Recent photos can be very helpful if a pet is missing. Emergency contact numbers for friends and relatives will make it easier for someone caring for your pet in an emergency.

Emergency supplies should include days or weeks of fresh food and water for each person and pet. Extra litter and disposable litter boxes will keep cats clean. Pillowcases to secure cats in an emergency can help.

A first-aid kit along with extra in-date pet medication should be available. First-aid kits should include a topical antibiotic, bandage material, scissors, thermometer, cotton bandage, saline, eye wash, tweezers, disposable gloves and hand wipes.

Other items that will come in handy are bath towels, garbage bags, food dishes, pet shampoo, flashlights, markers, spray paint, duct tape, baby wipes, protective clothing, rope, a rescue whistle, blankets and tools.

After returning home, carefully survey for hazards and toxins that may have been left behind.

Preparation now for a major disaster can make survival of both pets and family a reality.

Lawrence Gerson is a veterinarian and founder of the Point Breeze Veterinary Clinic. His biweekly column is intended to educate pet owners. Consultation with a veterinarian is necessary to diagnose and treat individual pets. If you have a question you’d like addressed in Pet Points, email Please include your name and municipality or neighborhood.