Top 10 Emergency Planning Tips when Traveling with a Dog
I am actually surprised it has taken us this long to write this post. Not because we have a tendency to travel to dangerous destinations with (for example) unpredictable weather, but because Mom is an Emergency Management and Business Continuity Planning professional. As a result, this line of thinking is actually a part of our day-to-day thought process. Not everyone has these “dark” thoughts on their mind when going on vacation but when traveling with your dog, you do have the additional responsibility of ensuring your companions safety and there are certain things one should keep in mind when visiting destinations prone to floods, fire, tornados, hurricanes, or other disasters.
Early preparation and awareness are important in mitigating the negative impact of a crisis and guaranteeing (as much as possible) the protection of your pet.
Here are the top 10 things to consider in an emergency situation:
- Make sure you ask a member of the hotel staff for a quick demonstration or explanation of their “with pet” evacuation policies and read the sign often found behind your hotel room door that indicates the fire exits and walk them. Having taken the time to walk the path with your dog will give both of you that added benefit of familiarity if you do need to evacuate. Note: Make sure you do not set-off any emergency exit alarms – do ask staff first.
- If you are renting lodgings make sure you know the evacuation routes. Know your neighborhood and find optional routes if possible. In almost every country, evacuation orders are issued for the safety of the area residents, make sure you know how this is done. It could be radio, TV, sirens or even word of mouth.
- Be sure your pet wears proper identification at all times. This could mean a collar with tags and a tattoo, and/or microchip (tags can fall off). You may also want to consider signing up with a national and local pet registry. Note: Many countries require microshipping to allow your pet into the country.
- Keep your pet’s documentation organized and in an easy-to-access place. Know where it is so that you can quickly grab it on your way out the door (mine are kept with the bipeds passports). Include a photo of your pet in your documents should you sadly need to create a search poster. You shoudl also have any documentation that was required for entry into the country you are visiting and anything needed to return home (If European this would mean you pet Passport).
- Pack an emergency kit for yourself and include your pets. Include pet food and water for at least several days, medication, leashes/harnesses, carrier, bedding, toys, and a pet first aid kit. Note: Keep all these items with your own emergency kit so that you only have one thing to grab.
- If renting, make arrangements with a trusted neighbor or friend just in case you’re not home when the emergency occurs (If staying at a hotel, arrange for a member of the hotel to do the same if possible). This person should be comfortable with your pet and vice versa. Arrange for them to retrieve your pet and meet you at a specified location. Because cell phones may not be functioning you may want to have more than one location to meet at. Usually it a progressive outward radius. Ex: If only your street is impacted go to location A. If your entire area is impacted go to Location B. If the entire city is impacted meet at location C.
During An Event
- Do not wait for a mandatory evacuation order or you may be told to leave your pet behind. Leave early if possible.
- Keep your dog on its leash (and cats in carriers) to prevent them from bolting in panic or confusion. A sling carrier with built in harness clip is ideal for this.
- Pets left behind may be injured, lost, or could even die from starvation, exposure, predators, or accidents. Do not assume that you can later return for your pet, because “later” may be too late; you never know how long you’ll have to stay out of the area. Take your pet with you!
- Find a safe place to stay ahead of time in case of a quick relocation. Ask friends, family, another hotel, animal shelter, pet grooming salons and veterinary clinics outside of your immediate area if they would be willing to house your pet in case of an emergency. Make a list of pet friendly accommodations in surrounding communities and ask them about their pet policies ahead of time. As soon as you think you will be evacuating, call to make arrangements.
A few extra resources
Note: Updated from a 2012 post.