This is pretty close to my heart right now. With most of Northern Ontario under fire, many people face the chances of evacuation, and not many are prepared. I am absolutely dumbfounded by the amount of people who are not prepared for situations where your pets need to be evacuated, or that there is some form of contingincy plan.
I am going to give some basic information on what you need to do to be ready :)
First and foremost, since this is a horse forum, I'll start with the most important things
1. Make sure your horses are trained to Trailer. You don't want to waste precious time trying to teach them to trailer 4 minutes after an officer has knocked on your door telling you to leave. This is probably one of the most important issues.
2. Make sure that spare tack is available near the paddocks or at least visable. Halters, Lead Ropes, ect should be made easily accessable in the case of an emergency. If your horses are in their stalls, make sure halters & leads are on the stall doors, if in the pasture, on the gate.
3. Make sure your horses are stranger friendly. In time of emergency, you may not have time to get them out, or not at home and will have to leave your animals behind for safety reasons. Responders do have people on staff that are livestock & equine experienced. They will go and trailer your horses if it is not safe for you to do so. These people risk their lives on a daily basis and know how to keep calm in stressful situations. Please make sure your horses are comfortable with strangers, they may need to be trailered or lead out by someone they don't know.
4. In case of emergencies halter tags with your name and information is useful, this information can be written on the cheek band of a nylon halter in Sharpie pen as well.
5. Make sure Vaccination records are handy, and that your horse is up to date. Sometimes your horse may be forced to share quarters with other peoples horses, and you never know if they have been vaccinated or not. In the case of an emergency, emergency workers don't have time to check everything, and will just put the horses together in whatever paddocks have been donated.
Now, just as with people, make sure that you have available at all times a bag with 3 days worth of Medication, feed, treats, easily accessable so that it can just grabbed and go, this "bug out bag" can be kept in the tack room, or anywhere, just make sure that a visable note is left or you tell the responding officer where the bag is if you do not have time to evacuate your horses yourself.
OVERALL Emergency Planning for animals.
Emergencies can be anything, from power outages, to severe storms (winter and summer) to high risk Forest Fires. You should be prepared not only for yourself with a personal human-necessity 72-hr kit, but you should also have your pets ready as well. Your Pet's 72-hr kit should have:
1. Record of all vaccinations, and city tags/licences
2. Portable Water/Food dishes (foldable ones are easier to pack)
3. Food and water for 3 days minimum
4. Sturdy Leashes or Harnesses, and collars, as well as a few spare's (you never know if you'll need it)
5. Cat Litter/Pan - if necessary
6. Pet carrier - This is not just for your safety, even if your pet is not generally crated, it is good to have one available in case you are evacuated to an emergency center that allows pets, it is easier to care for them if they are crated in that sort of situation. You do not know what type of personality other animals in the center will have, plus your pet will be stressed, they will often do things that they wouldn't normally do, such as bite, or bolt.
7. 3 day supply of their medications
8. Feeding schedules, medical/behavioral information, you never know if you may have to board your pet.
9. Up to date information on you. You can either again write it on a nylon collar w/ sharpie, or go to your local pet valu/pet store and get a tag done up with the information that you can easily snap onto the collar or leash.
10. Muzzle if necessary.
Remember, in an emergency situation, pets are just as anxious and as stressed as you are because they sense how you are feeling. Do not leave your pet with strangers, alone, or without a leash at any time. Bring a "comfort" item with you, it can be anything from a blanket to a toy, just something familiar to the pet that they can take comfort from having close to them.
REMEMBER DURING AN EMERGENCY YOU ARE STILL RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR PET.
When evacuating, take your pet with you if it is possible. Pets should not be left behind during any evacuation or emergency situation. It is dangerous for them, they could run away, be injured or even possibly killed due to the situation. Remember to take your pet 72-hr kit with you when you go.
Alot of Emergency centers are not equipped to accept animals. You should have a plan for what to do if this happens. Call around and verify which hotels/motels in your immediate area accept pets. Check with Family and friends in the immediate area that would be able to take pets if possible, if you need a place in an emergency. Prepare a list of boarding kennels and vets that would possibly be able to board your pet in an emergency. Call around to animal shelters to see if they offer emergency boarding, however this last option should only be used after all other options are exhausted. Most animal shelters will be stretched thin during an emergency with pets that are left behind, as well as all other shelter pets.
Due to the fact you may be at work or unable to return home from a shopping trip in the event an evacuation occurs. Verify with a trusted neighbor they are aware that your pet is in the home, and ask if in the event of an emergency that they could evacuate your pet if need be. Let them know where a spare key is left, or provide them with one, let them know where your 72-hr pet kit is located to be taken with them during an emergency. And most importantly let them know where your pet is most likely to be located in the event of the emergency, most pets have a "comfort zone" where if they are scared they are most likely to be.
Once you return home from an evacuation, do not allow your pet off their leash for several days. Alot of the familiar land marks, and property lines may have been damaged or destroyed during the emergency, familiar smells will also be most likely removed and replaced with strange new ones. Remember after an emergency, for the first while, your pet may have a different personality and behaviour due to the stress, contact your vet if you are concerned.
Thanks for reading this information, for more information on 72 hr kits for home, pet and car and what to do during an emergency please visit: http://www.emergencymanagementontario.ca