This past week, I had the pleasure to visit the beautiful state of Kentucky. I was in Louisville facilitating a training meeting all week during the first round of tornadoes on Wednesday, and just barely escaped town on an early flight before the devastating second round of tornadoes on Friday. Because I consider myself lucky to have gotten out in time, and because I've been in communication with a lot of my colleagues in Kentucky who live in the Louisville area and weren't so lucky, the subject of emergency preparedness has been on my mind a lot this week. What would I have done if I lived in the path of the tornadoes? How would I have prepared my home and my pets for an impending disaster? What could I do to protect my two basenjis, whom I love as fiercely as if they were children, from ending up like the many unfortunate pets who were found, both alive and dead, many miles from their homes?
It's not a pleasant subject to think about for sure, but it's one that we all should put at least some small thought to - NOW- before we're even considering being in the path of any kind of disaster. By the time disaster is imminent, people are usually so panicked that they can't possibly think logically about what they should do to protect their pets. So, please take a moment NOW to read through FEMA's Information for Pet Owners, and internalize the steps you should take -- particularly those in the "Plan for Pet Disaster Needs" and the "During a Disaster" sections, since those are the sections most likely to be crucial and most likely to be forgotten in the panic of pre-disaster preparation.
Think hard about what steps you can take NOW to mitigate the chaos of pre-disaster preparation, and do something simple, like putting together a list of items you would need to grab or do for your pets in the event of an emergency. Keep your list handy - perhaps near the place where you keep their food or medications- and maybe even consider folding up a "travel bag" to stash nearby just in case you don't have much time to grab supplies and run. Above all, remember to bring your pets in from outside as early as possible so they don't freak out and run away, and keep them leashed and close with you at all times during a disaster. They're going to be just as scared as you are, so the best way to ensure everyone's safety is to ride out the storm together.