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Managing Uncertainty

Jul 31, 2020

In this week's edition of the Managing Uncertainty Podcast, Bryghtpath Principal & CEO Bryan Strawser continues with the theme of National Preparedness Months and talks about the topic of pet preparedness.

Topics discussed include steps you should take to ensure that you have incorporated pet preparedness into your family's emergency planning, including specific actions you can take today to ensure that you are prepared to evacuate safely with your pets in the event of a disruption or emergency.

Related Episodes & Articles

Additional Pet Preparedness Resources

Episode Transcript

Bryan Strawser: Hello, and welcome to the "Managing Uncertainty" podcast. This is Bryan Strawser, Principal and CEO here at Bryghtpath.

Bryan Strawser: In this week's episode, I want to talk about an interesting topic, perhaps a little bit of an unusual topic, and that is pet preparedness, preparedness for your furry creatures or other pets that you have in your life and how you incorporate them into your personal preparedness planning. I'm doing this as a part of National Preparedness Month, the month of September, here in the United States. We've talked about it in a previous episode.

Bryan Strawser: The question is, when disaster strikes your home, your neighborhood, or your local community, what will happen to your pet?

Bryan Strawser: Now, if you follow the National Preparedness Month messaging from year to year, you know that the Ready Campaign, the campaign around personal and family and community preparedness from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, they recommend that every family have a plan that they make or buy a kit, and they get informed. They get connected to local alerting for disasters and national alerting for disasters through organizations like FEMA because we want to be prepared for a disaster that might impact them, an individual, or a family, or their local community.

Bryan Strawser: Including your pet or pets in your planning is an important part of keeping your family safe during a disaster because I've always had pets growing up. I've had cats, and I've had dogs and fish and other animals along the way. They all become part of our families.

Bryan Strawser: And so when we're thinking about planning and preparedness for our families, including your pet in your planning, is an important part of keeping your family safe during a disaster.

Bryan Strawser: Let's kind of break this down into a few things. We want folks to be prepared by making a plan and having a disaster kit for their pet. So let's start with the preparation for making a plan.

Bryan Strawser: The first is to make sure, particularly for dogs and cats and other animals that are completely mobile on their own, you want to make sure they have collars and tags with up to date contact information and other identification.

Bryan Strawser: I should point out as we go through this that this discussion is going to be really focused on dogs and cats and similar animals that are mobile like that, that are going to wear a collar. Certainly fish and snakes and reptiles and others are things that we may think we need ... a lot of folks will keep as pets. This discussion isn't really targeted at that, but there's definitely some things in common for what we're going to talk about that would apply to those animals as well.

Bryan Strawser: First, we want to make sure that those pets have collars and have tags with up to date contact information and other appropriate identification.

Bryan Strawser: You may want to consider microchipping your pets. This is one of the best ways to ensure that you and your pet are reunited if you're separated. It allows for really easy identification on a large scale by public safety agencies. You want to make sure that you register that microchip through your veterinarian or directly with the manufacturer and keep your contact information up to date. with the microchip company.

Bryan Strawser: You should have a pet carrier for each of your pets. On that carrier, put your pet's name, your name, and contact information on the carrier. You will want to make sure that your pet is familiar with their transport crate before a crisis so that there's not additional trauma on top of the trauma of having to evacuate. It may be good to practice transporting your pet by taking them for rides in a vehicle that's similar to the one that you would evacuate in so they would get used to moving down the road in their transport carrier in a vehicle. And if necessary, you should practice catching your pet.

Bryan Strawser: I know my dog, Frenchie is a ... She's a Miniature Schnauzer, a three-year-old Miniature Schnauzer. She does not like to go in that cage, and if she knows ... If we're going to the vet, as she went actually earlier today, she is not happy about that. There has to be ... There has been some practice between my wife and I about cornering the dog in order to get her into the transport carrier.

Bryan Strawser: You may want to practice doing the same thing, particularly if you're on your own. Keep a leash and/or the carrier near the exit. We keep ours in the garage so it's right by the vehicles. It's easy to get to, and the leash is an always in the same place.

Bryan Strawser: In your car, make sure that you have the proper equipment for your pet to ride in the car, carriers. There are actually harnesses and pet seatbelts that you can use as well.

Bryan Strawser: If you don't have a car, make arrangements with friends, neighbors and family, or if you're going to be reliant upon public transportation, it's not a bad idea to even, this far out when there's nothing going on, to contact your local government or transit agency and find out about their transportation options going into a disaster.

Bryan Strawser: Think about where you and your pet are going to stay if you have to evacuate. Based upon the severity or speed of a disaster, you may need to shelter in place, meaning that you're going to stay at your residence and shelter there as the disaster passes, like a hurricane or severe weather, or you're going to shelter in a facility away from home. Maybe you're going to a relative's house in an evacuation. Maybe you're going into your parents. Maybe you're staying with friends that are a hundred miles away, or out of the impacted area. But again, think about where you would go and if there are any restrictions or issues that you're going to need to work through in that situation. Those are some thoughts about making a plan.

Bryan Strawser: The second part of pet preparedness is to prepare a pet disaster kit. These are things that you're going to need to take with you in a disaster, an evacuation.

Bryan Strawser: The first is food. You're going to want to make sure that you have food in airtight, waterproof containers or cans for all of your pets, and you should really store about two weeks worth of food. You're going to want to do the same for water, so that you have both food and water available for your pets.

Bryan Strawser: The second is to make sure that you have food and water bowls available. If you're using any kind of cans, you'll want to have a manual can opener.

Bryan Strawser: In fact, whether you're using cans or not to store your food and water, you may want to bring a manual can opener in your pet disaster kit so that you can open other pet food cans because if that's the only thing that you were able to obtain while evacuating or when you get to where you're going, if you're not able to get other types of food, you're going to need to be able to open those pet food cans in order to feed your pet.

Bryan Strawser: For cats, you're going to want to bring a litter box and litter. For dogs, you're going to want to bring plastic bags so that you can deal with their feces.

Bryan Strawser: You may want to bring clean-up items for bathroom accidents like paper towels, plastic trash cans, bleach-containing cleaning agent, particularly if you need to clean soft material like your car, clothing, a towel, a blanket, et cetera.

Bryan Strawser: If your animal takes any medications, then bring two weeks' worth of medication in your pet disaster kit. You also want to bring any treats or toys that you use to give the medication, and bring pharmacy contact or prescription contact information to get refills in case you're not able to return home for some period of time.

Bryan Strawser: Next item in your pet disaster kit are medical records. You will want to have the rabies vaccination certificate for your pet. Don't rely just upon the collar tag. You're going to want the actual vaccination certificate so that it's accepted by folks at the other end if you need to show that. You'll want to bring a copy of any medical records or vaccination records that you have.

Bryan Strawser: If your pet has a microchip, you're going to want a record of the microchip number so that you're able to track that as needed with the manufacturer or service. You should bring any prescriptions or medications ... I'm sorry, should bring any prescriptions that are necessary for medication that your pet is taking.

Bryan Strawser: For cats, you should bring the most recent FIV test results or vaccination dates. And then beyond that, I would bring a copy from your veterinarian of any pertinent medical history that's necessary. You can just get this in your annual vet appointment with your veterinarian and just ask for a copy of the records for your pet disaster kit.

Bryan Strawser: You should also think about sturdy leashes or harnesses or tie-out kits that are necessary for your animal, for your pet if you happen to be somewhere and you're able to tie them outside for a while, like at a rest area and let them get some fresh air and wander a bit but still be safe and in your control.

Bryan Strawser: You may also want to invest in a carrier or a cage that's large enough for your pet to stand comfortably in and turn around, along with the towels and blankets to make that comfortable for them.

Bryan Strawser: I know my dog has a traveling cage, traveling carrier that we use for trips to the vet and the groomer and what have you, but we have a bigger cage that she slept in as a puppy that has a nice a mat in the bottom, and you put some blankets in there. It actually folds down to a manageable size.

Bryan Strawser: And then, when, if you went to a hotel room or you got to where you were going and they needed to be in there at night, you just stand up the walls and snap them together, and now I've got a cage that she can walk around in a little bit and be more comfortable than in the transit carrier.

Bryan Strawser: You will want to bring any pet toys or pet bed that makes your pet feel comfortable and at home, and it keeps them calm.

Bryan Strawser: And then, remember that any documents and medication and food should be stored in waterproof containers, like a good piece of Tupperware or a plastic storage container, things along those lines.

Bryan Strawser: These are some examples. If you visit the Ready Campaign website, there is a pets and animals section, and you can get even more specific advice. I believe there are some checklists and some other content that you can find there that would be helpful to you in a disaster with your animal.

Bryan Strawser: But we want to make sure they're part of our family, right? So we want to make sure that they're taken care of as we're evacuating and taken care of for the rest of our family.

Bryan Strawser: By taking these steps, you're really working to protect the health of your pet, and making sure that all of your family is safe and can stay together.

Bryan Strawser: That's it for this edition of the "Managing Uncertainty" podcast. We'll be back next week with yet another episode of our podcast. Thanks for listening.