Pets need emergency help too

COMMENTARY /// Animal care

We live in earthquake country, and last week’s jolt off the Channel Islands was a good reminder that we need to be prepared, both for ourselves and for our pets.

Unlike in other parts of the nation, with their hurricane and blizzard seasons, there is no “earthquake season,” and thank goodness for that. But people who know what to expect and when to expect it are prepared for possible disaster. Let’s face it, living here, where it’s sun and fun all the time, we need reminders like that 5.3 quake to get us to act.

Many pet owners reported that their dogs or cats predicted the April 5 shaking, but even if they sent you a text an hour in advance pets cannot fend for themselves.

Pet owners should consider preparing a survival kit for each pet that will be sufficient for at least three days of isolation.

Keep a list of what is in that kit and write down expiration dates so the supplies can be updated. Having dog or cat food in a container won’t help if it is five years past the expiration date.

There are prepackaged kits, but you will want to add additional supplies specific to your pet.

Enough food in sealed containers (bags or cans) for three to seven days.

Water, at least 1 quart per pet.

Food and water bowls. If you need to evacuate don’t assume they will be available wherever you end up.

Cat litter, poop scoop and litter pan. You might have to relocate, so don’t assume you can use the ones you always use.

Poop bags for both dog and cats. Zip-lock bags work too. You need to pick up after your dog, and if you’re scooping litter you need a place to put the waste.

Crate or carrier, one per pet. Animals may be upset, and pairing up might not work. Include a blanket and maybe a favorite toy.

List of medications. If you can include some meds, that’s great, but be sure to list expiration dates and keep supplies current.

A copy of your adoption agreement, current photo and microchip number. You can also use a label maker or laser engraver to put the microchip information inside or on the bottom of the carrier. In an earthquake doors and windows may open, and identification is necessary to get an escaped pet back.

Vaccination records. Emergency shelters want to know your pet’s health record to be sure it won’t spread illness to other animals.

Pet first-aid kit. There may be broken glass or fallen objects. You might need to tend to a wound or splint a limb to keep it immobile. The Red Cross and many shelters offer courses in pet CPR and first aid.

Basic cleaning supplies. Antibacterial wipes for a litter box and pet wipes to clean up mess.

During an emergency, always put your safety first. If your pet runs away or into another room during an earthquake, wait until the shaking has stopped before searching for them. Most likely, pets will find their own safe place to ride out the quake.

If they get outdoors, spread the word as fast as possible. That is why having a current picture is necessary. They generally won’t go far, but it’s best to be ready.

Yvette Berke is an animal advocate with over 30 years experience in rescue, care and adoption.