If you consider your pets to be members of your family (and we hope that you do!), then it is paramount that you include pets in your emergency readiness plans. You should account for and have plans for each family member, including pets, when it comes to transporting, sheltering in place, etc. The consequence of not having such a plan in place could be tragic not only for your pets in the event of an emergency, but it could also risk the wellbeing of the rest of your family.
Recently, in California, evacuations were complicated because people understandably did not want to be separated from pets. Some families stalled. Many families refused needed shelter if pets could not be accommodated.
In an evacuation situation with pets, having several plans is ideal, as disasters and impacted areas are unpredictable. Although you can be familiar with pet-friendly lodging options (La Quinta is our favorite!), in a disaster, lodging options are extremely limited. Having a family option away from home is great, as is perhaps evacuating with your own ‘shelter’ option in your vehicle (whether it be your vehicle itself or another temporary shelter option). Although we are lucky to have a large force of agencies and charities that step up in this country, we cannot depend on such to be able to be there, and to be able to take in our pets as well.
Think of it like this, if disaster strikes, families are likely going to stall to figure out what to do with their pets. In an evacuation situation, that delay is occurring when every moment counts. In a shelter in place situation, supplies could be become scarce and supplies needed for human family members could need to be shared with pets if we want to save our pets. Our pets have many needs, some more than others, and they depend on us.
From personal experience, my angel dog, Tacoma, saved my life. She was my defense when I had no other defense. She was the deterrent that stood between myself and a person intending unimaginable harm. Love would make me do anything in the world to save my Tacoma, just as she did for me. But it would be negligent on my part not to acknowledge the undeniable advantage of having her when it came to my safety in the absence of other safety measures being available.
This picture was taken a few years ago of our daughter and Tacoma. You can feel that love. That couch was our doggie cuddle couch as well as Tacoma’s ‘look-out’ point to guard our home and family. It still is for Aspen and our future dogs. I cannot stomach the thought of the heartbreak of explaining to my children, in a disaster situation, that we did not account for our dogs so they would need to be left behind or not provided for.
Admittedly, it is a lot to think about. It can be overwhelming. But it is better to address this issue sooner than too late. And we’re here if you need a little help navigating your way to ideal ‘readiness’ for all family members, the four-legged ones and the two-legged ones.