Animal Disaster Preparedness

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Whenever and wherever disaster strikes, people and their property are affected.  Over the years, we have seen whole communities destroyed and lives devastated.  A problem that is increasingly being recognized is that disaster also affects animals.  In times of crises, people worry not only about their family but also about the family pet; farmers worry about the livestock; horse owners worry about their prize show horse or backyard pony.  In a disaster, state and local government must first take care of people and they may not have time to deal with all animal problems.

The Amador County Animal Control Officers will assist with evacuations of large animals and establish animal shelters if resources permit.  Therefore, it is up to individuals to see that their animals are taken care of.  It is imperative that animal owners work with one another to develop plans for their animals.

The Humane Society of the United States recommends that if you evacuate, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND.  Pets most likely cannot survive on their own; and if by some remote chance they do, you may not be able to find them when you return.  For public health reasons, emergency shelters cannot accept pets.  Here in Amador County, Animal Control will establish animal shelters near human shelters.  Also, find out which motels and hotels in your area allow pets - well in advance of needing them.

If you have no alternate but to leave your pet at home, there are some precautions you must take.  Confine your pet to a safe area inside - NEVER leave your pet chained outside!  Place a note outside in a visible area for emergency responders, advising what pets are in the house and where they are located.  Provide a phone number where you or a contact can be reached as well as the name and phone number of your vet.

Animals in Society:  Did you know?

  • U.S. animal agriculture industry generates nearly $90 billion each year.
  • The pet industry generates $20-$30 billion each year.
  • Approximately 50 percent of all U.S. households own a pet.
  • 60 percent of pet owners consider their pets to be very or extremely important to their families.

Disaster Preparedness for Dogs, Cats, Birds and Reptiles

Before a Disaster Strikes:

  • Plan ahead - In the event of an evacuation, pets are not allowed inside human emergency shelters. Determine the best place to leave your pet. Identify an off-site location as well as a place in your home.
  • Identification and Photographs - Dogs and cats should always wear properly fitting collars, personal identification, rabies and license tags. Make sure all information on tags is current. Keep a photo of each pet. Make sure any distinguishing markings are visible.
  • Disaster Kit - Maintain a disaster preparedness supply kit for each pet.
  • Paperwork and Records - Store important documents, vaccination and medical records in a waterproof plastic bag.
  • Vaccinations - Your pets need to be current on vaccinations.
  • Transportation - Each animal should have their own pet carrier. Familiarize your pet with the carrier before an emergency.
  • Leashes and Collars - Keep a leash handy for each dog and cat in your home. Consider using a harness.
  • Buddy System - In case you are not home when disaster strikes, ask a trusted neighbor to check on your animals. Exchange veterinary information and file a permission slip with your veterinary authorizing them to get emergency treatment for your pet if you can not be located.

During a Disaster:

  • Evacuate animals early if possible to ensure their safety and ease your and their stress.
  • Listen to the Emergency Alert System (EAS) on the TV or radio - KFBK 1530 AM, Local Hometown Radio or Local TSPN Television.
  • Take all vaccination and medical records, identification, animal disaster supply kit, and enough food and water for two weeks.
  • If you can't take your pet with you then bring them indoors.  Do not leave pets chained outdoors.
  • Prepare a preselected site indoors for your pet.  Use a room with no windows, but adequate ventilation, such as a utility room, garage, bathroom, or other area that can be easily cleaned.  Do not tie them up.  Do not leave vitamin treats which could be fatal if overeaten.  Keep house dogs and cats separately even if they normally get along.
  • Keep birds caged.  They may sense danger and be difficult to capture.  In cold weather wrap a blanket around the carrier.
  • Snakes can be transported in a pillowcase, but they must be transferred to more secure housing when they reach their destination.
  • If you must leave birds or reptiles, leave them in a safe area and cover their cages with a light cloth or sheet.

After a Disaster:

  • Check animals for injury and exposure to chemicals. Contact your veterinarian if you have any concerns.
  • Pet behavior may change after an emergency.  Monitor pets closely and keep them leashed.  Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered causing confusion and abnormal behavior.
  • Monitor birds closely for several days.  Many commonly show signs of disease several days following a stressful episode.  Consult a veterinarian immediately at any signs of lethargy, loss of appetite, loose stool, depression, injury, or sitting on the cage bottom.
  • If you have to move to new surroundings, do not remove your bird from its cage until it is calm, then do so only in a closed room.  Frightened birds may become aggressive or fly away. 
    Let your bird have plenty of uninterrupted sleep to recover from the stress and trauma.  Birds will usually remain calm in isolated, darkened areas with cages covered.
  • If you find a pet, call animal control.  Isolate it from your animals until it is returned to its owner or can be examined by a veterinary.
  • If you have lost a pet, visit the animal shelter at least once a day.  You must check in person because you are the only one who can truly identify your pet.  Keep a current photo of your pet showing or describing any distinctive markings.
  • Create a flyer with your pet's photo and description, pet's name, your name and phone number where you can be reached. 
  • When you do find your pet, immediately examine it for illness or injuries.  Seek medical attention if needed.  Use caution when handling animals.  Panicky or injured animals may bite.

 Disaster Preparedness Kits for Dogs, Cats, Birds and Reptiles

  • Portable radio with extra batteries
  • Your veterinarian's information
  • Pet carriers or cage for each pet
  • Cage cover or blanket
  • Non-spill food and water bowls/dispensers
  • Two week's supply of food and water
  • Any special dietary instructions
  • Medications and dosing instructions
  • Pet first aid kit
  • Hot water bottles
  • Water bowl for soaking and heating pad for snakes
  • Battery powered heat lamp
  • Cat litter box and litter
  • Newspaper
  • Paper towels and plastic bags for cleanups
  • Disinfectants
  • Toys and treats
  • A current photograph of each pet

Disaster Preparedness for Horse and Livestock Owners

Before a Disaster Strikes:

  • Plan Ahead - Determine the best place for animal confinement in case of disaster.  Find alternate water sources in case power is lost and pumps are not working or have a hand pump installed.  Have a minimum of three day's feed and water on hand.
  • Evacuation - Decide where to take animals if evacuation is necessary.  Have several sites in mind.  Familiarize yourself with several evacuation routes to your destination.
  • Identification - This is critical!  Photograph, identify and inventory your animals.  Permanent identification such as brands, tattoos, ear tags or microchips are best.  Temporary identification such as tags on halters, livestock markers, paint and duct tape with permanent writing will also work.  Include your name and phone number.  Keep identification information with you to verify ownership.
  • Medical Records and Vaccinations - Your animals need to have current vaccinations.  Keep medical histories and record special dosing instructions and dietary requirements.  Write down contact information for your veterinary.
  • Vehicles - Keep trailers and vans well maintained, full of gas and ready to move at all times.  Be sure your animals will load.  If you don't have your own vehicle, then make arrangements with local haulers or neighbors before a disaster strikes.
  • Fire Preparation - In high risk areas, clear fire breaks around your house, barns and property lines.  Keep fire fighting tools in one location.
  • Flood Preparations - Identify available high ground on your property or other nearby evacuation sites.  Be familiar with road availability during flood conditions.

During a Disaster:

  • Listen to the Emergency Alert System (EAS) on the TV or radio - KFBK 1530 AM, Local Hometown Radio or Local TSPN Television.
  • Evacuate your livestock early, if possible, to ensure their safety and ease your stress. 
    Take all vaccination and medical records, the Disaster Supply Kit, and enough hay, feed and water for three days.
  • Call your destination to make sure space is still available.
  • If you must leave your animals, leave them in the preselected area appropriate for the disaster type.  Leave enough hay for 48 to 72 hours.  Do not rely on automatic watering systems.  Power may be lost.
  • Remember that the leading causes of death in large animals during a disaster are from collapsed barns, kidney failure due to dehydration, electrocution from downed power lines and fencing failures.

After a Disaster:

  • Check pastures and fences for sharp objects that could injure livestock.  Be aware of downed power lines, fallen trees and debris.  Beware of local wildlife, including raccoons and skunks, that may have entered the area and could pose a threat to your animals.
  • Familiar scents and landmarks may have changed and animals can easily become confuse and lost. 
    If you find someone else's animal, call the Amador County Animal Shelter.  Isolate it from your animals until it is returned to its owner or can be examined by a veterinarian.  Always use caution when approaching and handling strange or frightened horses or livestock.
  • If you have lost an animal, contact veterinarians, stables, surrounding farms and other facilities.  Listen to the local news media for groups that may be accepting lost animals.
  • Check with your veterinarian and the Amador County Agriculture Commissioner for information about possible disease outbreaks.

Disaster Preparedness Kits for Horses and Livestock:

  • Portable radio and extra batteries
  • Plastic trash barrel with lid
  • Water buckets
  • Feed for three days minimum
  • Non-nylon leads, halters, shanks and ropes
  • Leg wraps
  • First Aid Items
  • Tarps
  • Portable generators
  • Flashlights
  • Shovel
  • Lime or bleach
  • Fly spray
  • Wire cutters, sharp knife and hoof pick

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