The images of animals on TV from flood ravaged areas of the Caribbean and United States are so heartbreaking. Of course loss of life and saving people is of the utmost importance, but we need to think about our animal friends as well.
If you are caught in an emergency situation, World Animal Protection, who have have more than 50 years of helping communities and their animals recover and prepare for disasters, offer these important tips.
1) Make a plan - Before a disaster strikes, plan ahead for what your animals need and know where to go. Check in with your local authorities that evacuation shelters will accept animals and get to know the evacuation routes. Check in with your friends and family in other cities to make sure they would take in your pet if you needed to stay with them temporarily.
2) Make a kit - Prepare a first aid kit for your pets. Ask your vet about any specific requirements such as tick/flea prevention, antibiotic ointment and saline solution (to rinse out your animal's eyes).
3) Have enough food - Store at least five days of non-perishable pet food in an airtight, waterproof container. Ideally, keep the same food you would normally feed your animals to help avoid upset stomachs from changing diets in a stressful time. Store a can opener along with the food if it's in cans.
4) Store enough water - Keep at least five days of water for your pet, in addition to the water you need for your family. Animals can drink more water than usual when under stress. You will also need extra water to clean up after your pet.
5) Stay on top of vaccinations - Ensure your pet's vaccinations and immunizations are up to date following a schedule recommended by your veterinarian.
6) Keep a record - Store copies of vaccination and medical records in a watertight container or Ziploc bag including your vet's name and your telephone number. Keep this next to your pet carrier in case you have to shelter your pet or place them in foster care.
7) Pack the essentials - Store an extra supply of medicines your animals need in a waterproof container next to your carrier. This should also include any special dietary needs or supplements.
8) Consider the non-essentials - In times of stress comfort items help keep everyone calm. For example, clean towels help keep animals dry and hold familiar smells of home.
9) ID tags - Make sure your pet has an identification tag or chip as you may get separated in a disaster. Also, keep a hardcopy of a recent photo of your pet to further help with identification if you get separated.
10) Practice makes perfect - Train your pets to get inside pet carriers without a struggle. Make sure they can walk on a leash, go up and down stairs and comfortably ride in vehicles so if the time comes when you need to evacuate, these are familiar things for your pet.
As you read this, World Animal Protection's emergency response teams are on their way to rescue, treat and care for injured animals caught in the path of Hurricane Irma. They need as much help as they can get to help as many animals as they can.
On the ground they are directly treating wounded and sick animals by providing emergency vet kits, which include dressings, medications and vaccines. They are sustaining the animal survivors of this disaster with life-saving feed and protect livestock by providing vital nutrients and shelter.
You can help by visiting this website.