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Disaster Preparedness: Flooding

Posted In: News Updates

As the St. Louis Metro area has experienced multiple bouts of record-breaking flooding over the past month, now is a great time to be sure that you and your pets are as prepared as can be for unexpected disaster.

The best place to start is making sure that your pet’s IDs are all up to date! This includes a collar with tags that include the pet’s name and your current phone number. Microchips are extremely important, but also keep in mind- the average person who might find your pet on the street won’t have the ability to read a microchip, but they can read your pet’s collar and ID tags and give you a call, or bring the pet right back to your doorstep, saving the need to bring the pet into a shelter or veterinarian first.

Regarding microchips- this is generally the easiest and most effective way to significantly increase the chances of being reunited with your pet if they are ever lost. Most microchips are universally readable and can be updated any time you move or change phone numbers to reflect the most current contact information- but remember, they only work if they’re up to date!

The next thing you may want to consider is creating a “Disaster Kit”. A Disaster Kit should include:

  • Food and water for at least five days for each pet, bowls, and a manual can opener if you are packing canned pet food. People need at least one gallon of water per person per day. While your pet may not need that much, keep an extra gallon on hand to use if your pet has been exposed to chemicals or flood waters and needs to be rinsed.
  • Medications and medical records stored in a waterproof container and a first-aid kit.
  • Waste bags, cat litter box, litter, and litter scoop to collect all your pets' waste.
  • Sturdy leashes, harnesses and secure carriers to transport pets safely and to ensure that your pets can't escape. Carriers should be large enough to allow your pet to stand comfortably, turn around and lie down (they may have to stay in it for hours at a time).
  • Current photos of you with your pets and descriptions of your pets to help others identify them in case you and your pets become separated—and to prove that they are yours once you're reunited.
  • Written information about your pets' feeding schedules, medical conditions and behavior issues along with the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to board your pets or place them in foster care.
  • A favorite toy for comfort and a familiar blanket for warmth, particularly for smaller pets.

If you evacuate, take your pet:

  • If it isn't safe for you, it isn't safe for your pets. You have no way of knowing how long you'll be kept out of the area, and you may not be able—or allowed—to go back for your pets. Pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Remember to make plans for ALL your pets; during disasters, disaster plans for feral or outdoor cats, horses and animals on farms can be lifesavers.
  • Evacuate early. Don't wait for a mandatory evacuation order. Evacuating before conditions become severe will keep everyone safer and make the process less stressful. 

If you stay home, do it safely. If your family and pets must wait out a storm or other disaster at home, identify a safe area of your home where you can all stay together.

  • Close off or eliminate unsafe nooks and crannies where frightened pets may try to hide.
  • Move dangerous items such as tools or toxic products that have been stored in the area.
  • Bring your pets indoors as soon as local authorities say trouble is on the way.
  • If you have a room you can designate as a "safe room," put your emergency supplies in that room in advance, including your pet's crate and supplies (i.e. Disaster Kit). If there is an open fireplace, vent, pet door or similar opening in the house, close it off with plastic sheeting and strong tape.
  • Follow local news outlets online or listen to the radio periodically, and don't come out until you know it's safe.

After the emergency, your home may be a very different place after the emergency is over, and it may be hard for your pets to adjust.

  • Don’t allow your pets to roam loose. Familiar landmarks and smells might be gone, and your pet will probably be disoriented. Pets can easily get lost in such situations. There could also be a lot of debris, such as roofing nails and broken glass that could cause injuries.
  • While you assess the damage, keep dogs on leashes and cats in carriers inside the house. If your house is damaged, your pets could escape.
  • Be patient with your pets after a disaster. Try to get them back into their normal routines as soon as possible. Be ready for behavioral problems caused by the stress of the situation. If these problems persist, or if your pet seems to be having any health problems, talk to your veterinarian.
  • If your community has been flooded, check your home and yard for wild animals who may have sought refuge there. Wildlife can pose a threat to you and your pet.

We hope with these tips in mind, you and your pets can stay safe in the event of unexpected catastrophe!

The Animal Medical Center of Mid-America has veterinarians at three locations that can answer questions about your pet’s health. Call 314-951-1534 or click here to request an appointment online.