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Disaster Preparedness for your Pet: After a Disaster

Aug 17, 2007
On many instances it is after a disaster, rather than before or during one, that pets can really suffer as this is when they are often abandoned or escape and have to fend for themselves. Read on to see how you can prevent this.

After a disaster

Feeding: if pets have been without food for a prolonged period of time, reintroduce food in small servings, gradually working up to full portions.

Environmental hazards: downed power lines are a danger to wandering pets. Survey the area surrounding your home to identify any contaminated water. Dangerous animals and snakes may have entered the area as a result of floodwaters to feed on the carcasses of reptiles, amphibians and small mammals that have been drowned or crushed in their burrows. They pose a threat to you and your pets.

Behavioural changes: look out for any changes in your pets behaviour in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. Post-traumatic stress may make a placid friendly pet aggressive or defensive. Familiar landmarks and scents may have been altered, causing confusion for your pet which could result in them getting lost. Therefore, dogs should be leashed and outdoor cats kept indoors for the few days after a disaster. Maintain close contact while they re-adjust to their new surroundings.

Lost pets: check animal shelters daily for lost pets. Notify neighbours and all local veterinarians. Immediately place lost animal notices at eye level in your surrounding area, containing a recent good quality photograph. Check and post details on websites (see Emergency Contact Information, above).

Other Types of Pets

-Small mammals (rabbits, ferrets, hamsters, gerbils, rats, mice, guinea pigs): evacuate as per a cat, using a secure, covered carrier or cage to reduce stress. Remember to bring appropriate food, bedding materials and exercise equipment.

-Birds: evacuate using a small and secure covered carrier. Transfer your bird(s) to a standard cage on arrival at your prearranged evacuation site. Covering the cage with a sheet or towel may reduce stress. Birds should be kept in a quiet area, and given fresh food and water daily. Suggested additions to the evacuation kit are as follows; necessary dietary supplements, a plant mister for hot weather, a hot water bottle for warming birds in cold weather, a perch, paper towels to line the cage and toys.

-Amphibians: these must be transported using water-tight plastic bags (as used for transporting fish) or plastic containers with snap-on lids. Place small ventilation holes in the upper wall or plastic lid. If making holes in plastic ensure there are no bits of sharp plastic jutting out that may cause injury to the amphibians fragile skin. If possible, keep to one animal per container.

If the amphibian is terrestrial or semi-aquatic, use just a small amount of water, moss or soaked cotton wool. If totally aquatic, fill the bag/container with de-chlorinated water (preferably the water the animal was living in to minimize stress).

Monitoring of water & air temperature, humidity and lighting will be necessary while the amphibian is at the rescue centre. The enclosure should be quiet and away from vibrations.

-Reptiles: if small, evacuation can be accomplished using a pillowcase inside a secure transport carrier. Transfer on arrival to a secure cage at the evacuation site. Suggested additions to the evacuation kit; any necessary dietary supplements, water bowl for soaking, spray bottle for misting, heating pad, battery operated lamp, batteries and handling gloves if necessary.

Helping wildlife

-Do not approach wild animals that have taken refuge in your home: racoons, opossums and snakes often seek refuge from floodwaters in peoples homes, and have been known to remain there once waters recede. If you find yourself in this situation, open doors and windows to encourage the unwanted visitor to leave. Provided with an escape route, the animal will probably leave of its own accord. Should it stay, call your local animal control office or wildlife rescue service.

-Do not corner wild animals outside or try and rescue them: call your local animal control office. If stranded on an island after flooding, which has suitable shelter, you can leave appropriate food for the species. Approaching a wild animal may scare it into jumping into floodwater to escape, thus endangering it.

-Do not try and move a dead animal: animal carcasses can present a serious public health risk. Contact your local emergency management office or health department for instructions.

-If bitten by an animal: seek immediate medical attention. Rabies is transmitted this way and can be fatal if the antidote is not administered quickly enough.
About the Author
Dr Matthew Homfray is part of the expert team atwww.WhyDoesMyPet.com - Expert answers for all your pet questions

Visit them today, you will be impressed by the quality of their pet experts and the speed with which your pet question is answered!
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