We have all seen the news stories where post disaster (such as a hurricane) many families cannot enter an emergency shelter due to a "no dogs policy." In fact, after major disasters there is an uptick in dog rescue and shelter intakes (sadly). Most of this is preventable with a pre-disaster pet plan.
Finding a pet friendly emergency shelter is relatively easy. Simply contact your county/local emergency management office or local animal shelter for a reference. Many shelters unfortunately have prior emergency experience, therefore, they know which emergency shelters will allow dogs. As an alternate, find out which hotels and motels along your evacuation route will accept dogs in an emergency. You can even call ahead and ask if no pet policies can be waived in case of a regional emergency.
Be prepared before you go to a pet-friendly emergency shelter! Make sure you have these items ready to go for your dog(s):
- Updated information each collar
- A leash and harness
- Around 14 days worth of dog food and water (especially if your dog has a special diet)
- Updated vaccination and medical records from your veterinarian
- Portable food and water bowls
- Information on your dog(s) feeding schedules, behavior problems, medical conditions and the name and number of your vet
- Current photos of your dog(s)
- Transportable bed and toys
In lieu of dog friendly shelters please prepare a list of friends, relatives, veterinarians, and boarding facilities that can care for your dog(s). Most importantly, run evacuation drills with your dog(s) so they get used to it in order to relieve anxiety during a major disaster event.
After a disaster your dog may have a behavior change by potentially becoming more irrigatable, defensive, or aggressive. Keep them under your direct watch during your emergency shelter stay. Remember to stay calm and collected as your dog can sense your energy and mood changes.
When coming back home dogs might be confused and perplexed as an emergency event might have affected their scent markers they normally use around your home.
At Rescue Treats we are partnered with multiple dog rescues and thus we noticed many cases of post-disaster rescue situations that could have easily been avoided with a simple plan. Please plan ahead. Stay safe out there!