Without disaster preparedness planning, your dog — and you — could end up injured, permanently maimed, or killed.
A disaster gives you very little control over your circumstances.
A hurricane changes course, forcing you out of your home.
The wind shifts; suddenly the forest fire is heading your way, and you're on the run.
Toxic gases escape from a ruptured car during a train derailment, and your entire town evacuates.
Most natural disasters give us a warning, so we can be prepared when the time comes. They are the ones from which, with planning, we can escape unharmed.
Others, like a tornado or the tsunami that killed over 150,000 people in Asia in 2004, are difficult to escape from, as they give us no warning.
Even when the odds of survival are small, however, effective disaster preparedness will improve those odds and may keep you and your dog together, or reunite you if you're separated.
The best time for disaster preparedness was yesterday.
The next best time is now.
There are many things you need to do to ensure that both you and your dog will be as safe as possible when trouble comes. Don't delay. Your dog depends on you to keep him safe!
An important aspect of preparing for a disaster is knowing what disasters might come your way.
Determine the disaster threats in your area so you know what to be prepared for. Become familiar with the various agencies and organizations that can help you and your dog in emergencies.
Make your disaster evacuation plans, including where to stay and how you're going to get there.
Create a dog evacuation kit that contains everything he'll need for at least two weeks away from home. Ensure that you or a rescuer can easily find your kit and your dog when it's time to go.
Call on your vet to discuss medications and other concerns.
Collect all the information and records you'll need to provide your dog with secure accommodations. Give him sufficient identification to ensure his prompt return to you if he wanders off.
Create a buddy system with neighbors so that if you can't get home, they'll collect your dog and his evacuation kit and head out of town.
Rehearse your evacuation so that it all comes naturally when the real thing strikes. Practice on your own with your dog, then practice with your buddy.
Plan on how you will escape from an emergency such as a house fire. Some dogs will panic and hide from the noise and smoke, so make sure you train some behaviors that will prevent this. Rehearse it, so you and your dog both know what to do.
Don't forget the smaller, but no less important, picture: in-home emergency preparedness. Make and rehearse plans to get out of the house in case of fire, gas leak and other life-threatening situations.
Don't leave your dog's life, and your own, to chance and a panicked mind.
Preparedness — when both you and your dog are ready to leave at a moment's notice — will reduce your stress level, giving you a clearer head to deal with other situations as they happen during your evacuation.
There are some great organizations with information to help you help your dog during a disaster. Check them out. You'll be glad you did.