Typically when we think of emergencies and disasters we think of floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes. We often tend to believe that “It will never happen to me.” Disasters and emergencies can happen at any time to anyone. Millions of people can be affected is disasters and many of these people have animals, who trust their people to care for them.
A disaster cannot be prevented but can be managed through proper preparations. Planning ahead can prevent the pets from suffering. Pet parents and their pets will need shelter, water, food, and possible medical attention if an emergency strikes. Being prepared will reduce the stress that will certainly come about during these circumstances.
Part of being a responsible pet parent is preparing for possible disasters and emergencies that may affect you and your pets. Professionals who work with animals should be just as prepared to tend to those animals that are in their care.
Preparing for such events is as simple as making a plan that will allow you to mitigate and recover quicker from natural and man-made disasters.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) indicates there are four main stages of emergency management: mitigating, preparedness, Response, and Recover.
Mitigating is actually a cornerstone of efforts that lessen the impact of emergencies and disasters on people, animals and property. Mitigating involves reducing or eliminating risks from natural or man-made disasters and the effects of them. Preventing the lost or deaths of pets in an emergency is a part of mitigating. Mitigating will also include identifying all potential hazards and vulnerabilities that maybe encountered.
Preparedness will include preparing an emergency plan, evacuation and first aid kits, having a supply of water, etc. Prepare ahead of time to save lives (pets and humans) and to minimize damages. Part of preparedness will include: planning, training, and drills and including your pets in the training and drills is essential to their cooperation and survival. Be prepared develop an emergency plan and practice it with your pets. Built an evacuation kit that includes everything you and your pet will need for a couple of weeks include a first aid kit, food, water, shelter.
Responding to an event is putting the plan into action can result in a safe and coordinated response to an emergency or disaster.
Recovery is just as important. When the disaster or emergency has passed it is not uncommon to find normal surroundings disorienting and pet’s visual and scent cues will be affected because things are not normal in their environment. As quickly as possible repair, replace or rebuild to regain a balanced environment.
Using the four phases of emergency planning: mitigating, preparedness, response, and recovery will allow pet owners to plan ahead of time and reduce risks. Emergency management is essential in reducing lost of life and preventing loosing a pet. Disasters and emergencies can happen at any time to anyone. Each of the four phases will be explained in detail in future articles.
Joyce Rheal is based in Southern Illinois and is a nationally certified pet care consultant, trainer, and the author of Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies and Disasters.