Pet Emergency Plans for South Florida
As pet sitters, we pride ourselves on being prepared for everything- last minute pet sits or dog runs, helping find lost pets, helping our clients back into their homes if they’ve somehow locked themselves out, and, of course, having a pet plan in the likely event that a hurricane or tropical storm decides to grace South Florida. In our last post we covered mitigation, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) first step in disaster management. Now we take on the second step, preparedness. In a nutshell, it’s the part where you develop an emergency plan for your pet and practice it. In Florida that means hurricanes- luckily, we tend to get plenty of warnings for those.
1. When developing your family plan add specific plans for your pets. Our family makes sure that each member is assigned a pet to locate and care for. Because we live in a house with hurricane windows and doors we don’t have to worry about shelters for our own pack. We’ve decided on a pet “safe zone” in our home, and you should as well (ours is a bathroom; it’s a great idea to fill the clean bathtub with water before the disaster strikes).
2. We follow the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters‘ guidelines for emergency pet care. One of their great recommendations is to build a phone tree. One person phones two people to see if they need help; those two phone two other people each, and so on.
3. Prepare an Emergency Supply Kit:
- The ASPCA recommends you have 3-7 days’ worth of food for your pet, and 7 days’ worth of bottled water- just make sure to rotate the food out before it goes bad (and remember food and water bowls)
- Keep photocopies of your pets’ medical records, and make sure to stay current on vaccines
- Keep at least 2 weeks’ worth of medicine for your pet
- Pet first aid kit (we’re revamping ours and will be sharing soon)
- Extra leashes, collars, toys, blankets
- Liquid dish soap and disinfectant
- Litter, aluminum trays for litter, paper towels
4. The care of birds, reptiles, and small animals in emergencies requires special consideration.
Choose designated “caregivers”- in your case, your pet sitter
It’s so important that you not leave your pets alone at home without anyone to care for them during an emergency, but sometimes people are caught outside of Miami when the hurricane or tropical storm hits. Pet sitters typically have a copy of their clients’ keys in a safe location. They also know important details about your pet’s medications, feeding schedule, and your home’s security. Pet sitters can then be one of the first in your circle to check in on your pets, so make sure you contact your pet sitter in advance to work out an emergency plan with them. Also remember to have someone you can call outside your area, which is especially helpful if communications are down in an emergency zone. This contact should know your plan and family meeting place. You should tell as many people as possible about your emergency plan and meeting place: your neighbors, your veterinarian, other family, and friends. Make sure you have chosen a meeting place for your family in case you are separated. We will be providing a list of pet-friendly hotels and shelters for those who need them.