Disaster and Emergency Preparedness for Pets

Disaster and Emergency Preparedness for Pets

As an active fire & rescue volunteer, I was one of the first to be deployed when Tropical Storm Ondoy hit Metro Manila in September of 2009. Ironically, my first “patient” was a small Yorkshire terrier in a panic stricken mode as floods were steadily rising in their home.

During most of that ordeal and the days that followed after that both people and their pets were separated or stranded where they were food and help had to be brought to them through till Ondoy has passed.

The story I’ve just written is true and highlights the need for pet owners to take more responsibility for their beloved companions. As more and more access to information becomes available, pet owners now have the means needed to take care of their pets not just during good times but during times when an emergency happens or when a disaster is threatening to occur.

We, in the rescue community encourage the communities we service to have a mindset of “Disaster and Emergency Preparedness” that people can use when the unexpected happens.

This concept can be approached in two main categories. That is emergency preparedness or disaster preparedness. Although many times you may read or see that in a lot of instances these two are often interchanged. But for the sake of this article let us define Emergency Preparedness as addressing instances such as common household emergencies to events that affect your immediate family while Disaster Preparedness deals more with Natural and Manmade disasters affecting more people in a wider area such as a community, province, or region.

In both categories, it is greatly encouraged that people with pets undertake the effort to put together a Preparedness Kit not only for themselves and their family but for their pets as well. This is especially true for the local setting.  As in the years I’ve spent being a volunteer I’ve observed the following:

  • The government only has a very limited capability in terms of rescue and relief resources. NGOs are your next best hope for help but in a situation with a high volume of evacuees their own resources will be very stretched
  • Pets are not a high priority when it comes to rescue or evacuation during emergencies or disasters.
  • If you were to evacuate, not many evacuation centers will allow pets as they would pose a health and safety risk to other evacuees in the shelter.
  • Food, Water, and Medicine will be very hard to find in a disaster scenario.

While this may be true, it is also a fact that there are more pet owners now than before. Just strolling around a mall on a lazy Sunday afternoon, one can see the many pet owners (although mostly dogs) strolling around with their furry little (and sometimes big) companions.

This means there are more people with pets that need to make sure that in an emergency or disaster they have the immediate resources and knowledge needed to make sure that their pet will be taken care of.

To start off, any type of pet preparedness kit will include the following items:

  • Water
  • Food
  • Shelter or Pet Carrier
  • First Aid/Medicine
  • Pet ID and/or Documentation
  • Toys

In the Philippine setting it is advised that standard preparedness kits hold enough supplies for at least a week

I hope this was helpful for you. Should you have any questions or concerns I would love to hear from you. Please contact me at pateros_14@rocketmail.com and I’ll try to get back to you as soon as I can.

Thanks and Stay Safe.

This article was revised from its original version for the purpose of this blog. You may get the original article by getting a copy of the Makati Dog and Cat Hospital Newsletter or by accessing the following link:

Benedict “Dinky” de Borja has been a volunteer Firefighter + Medic for the Pateros Filipino-Chinese Volunteer Fire and Rescue Brigade for the last 5 years. He helps Dr. Sixto Carlos on topics such as Emergency and Disaster Preparedness, as well as First Aid.

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