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10 Ways to Help Animals during a Disaster

Oct 7, 2009

Disasters, such as tornadoes, earthquakes or hurricanes, can strike at any time, with little or no warning. Without an easy-to-execute plan, families are sometimes forced to choose between their own safety and the safety of their beloved animals. In recognition of World Animal Week, The World Society for the Protection of Animals has put together a few simple, easy, and effective actions you can take to help make a difference for animals when disaster strikes:

1. Have a plan: Take the time to make a plan and assemble an emergency kit for you and your pets. Consider your evacuation route and plan ahead for a safe place to take your animals. Research animal-friendly hotels, contact local shelters to see if they provide emergency shelter, and ask friends and relatives if they would be willing to take in your companion animal. Keep in mind that evacuation shelters are generally unable to accept animals.

2. Take your companion animals with you: If the severity of a disaster requires you to evacuate your home be sure to take your pets. It could be days or even weeks before you will be able to safely return to your house, and animals can easily be lost, injured, or killed if they are left behind to fend for themselves.

3. Place a window decal in your home: If you are not at home during an emergency, a well-placed window decal by your front door can notify responders that an animal is present in your home.

4. Support your local shelter:  Local shelters bear the burden of aiding lost or injured animals during an emergency. Make an effort to support your local organization with pet food, supplies or donations throughout the year. Also consider supporting shelters that work in disaster prone areas around the world. With your help these organizations can continue to provide their invaluable services to animals. Click here to find a WSPA member society near you. 

5. Make sure your animals have proper identification: All your pets should be wearing up-to-date identification tags that include your animal’s name, your name, emergency phone numbers and any urgent medical needs. In addition, veterinarians can microchip dogs and cats so that they can be identified without their collars in case they are separated from their owners.

6. Keep an emergency kit handy:  In the event of an emergency you’ll want to have everything your animals need assembled in a handy, portable kit. Include food, water, feeding dishes, cleaning supplies, cat litter, photographs of your animals, medication, extra collars and leashes, bedding, carriers, first-aid supplies and a list of emergency contacts.

7. Make sure your animal’s vaccinations are up-to-date:  Keep an extra copy of your companion animal’s health information in your emergency kit.

8. Set up a buddy system with your neighbor: Ask a neighbor to care for your companion animals during a disaster if you are not home and agree to do the same for him or her.

9. Support a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare:  Each year natural and man-made disasters create great distress and suffering for millions of people. Sadly, animals are all too often not considered during emergency preparedness planning. Read about our new celebrity support for the declaration during World Animal Week.

10. Keep informed about disasters affecting animals around the world:  WSPA’s disaster relief teams are hard at work helping animals in the midst of emergencies around the world. WSPA also carries out disaster preparation work with at-risk communities before disasters strike. We work with local authorities to put disaster response plans in place and help communities reduce the risk of their animals suffering should disasters occur. Sign up for our e-news  to learn more about our work and read breaking news about our emergency relief efforts on our Animals in Disasters blog.

To help even more, donate to our Animal Disaster Fund today>>

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A local woman uses WSPA emergency feed after flooding, Bangladesh