Pet & Animal Owners
Pets have become an important part of many people's lives. You must plan for them just as you would for the rest of your family. Pets do require some special considerations, however. Remember the following points when planning for your animals and disasters.
All Animals Can Be Very Unpredictable During and After a Disaster
Never approach animals that you are not familiar with following a disaster. Animals will act strangely following disasters and may be anxious or defensive. Since you have no way of knowing how an animal will react to your attempted aid, it is best to stay away from them. Also keep in mind that family pets and animals will be suffering from stress during disasters and may act differently. It isn't uncommon for pets to become aggressive or to run away.
Do not assume that your pet is special; any animal can cause harm to you and you must take precautions. You can fit your pet with a muzzle, or approach it with a sheet to cover it's head before trying to move it or put it into a kennel. Wild animals may try to take refuge in your home during a disaster. Do not corner them and give them a very wide berth. Contact animal control at 307-733-2331 for assistance in these situations.
Never Leave Your Pets Behind Following a Disaster
Even if you leave them with food and water, your pet's chances of surviving in your home alone during and after a disaster are very slim. Leaving your pet outside or setting it loose is a bad idea as well. Due to the stress of the disaster and the animal's unpredictability in a disaster situation, there is a chance you will never see that animal again. If you have warning, bring pets inside before or during a disaster. The best thing that you can do is to plan ahead for your animal's sake.
American Red Cross Shelters Cannot Accept Animals
Aside from service animals (such as seeing-eye dogs), American Red Cross shelters cannot accept any animals due to health reasons. Additionally, they are not equipped with the proper food and accommodations for animals. Teton County relies on the American Red Cross for its mass sheltering, so if you are a pet owner you will have to make other arrangements for shelter if you must leave your home. Look into pet-friendly hotels in surrounding areas or consult with your veterinarian for ideas on pet sheltering during a disaster.
Make an Animal-Specific Plan & Kit
Just as you put together a 72 hour kit for your family, you need to do the same for your pets. But no matter how complete your kit is, it is useless without a plan. The American Red Cross website on Pets and Disaster has some thorough guidelines on disaster planning for your animals.
Make Some Neighborhood Pet Buddies
There is always the chance that a disaster will strike when you aren't at home, but your animals are. Make arrangements with neighbors to watch out for one another's animals in the event that one of you are away when disaster strikes. Be sure to exchange information such as dietary requirements, medications required, etc.
Your animals depend on you for many things, and during a disaster they will rely on you even more. Before a disaster strikes, educate yourself by checking these very informative websites on animals in disasters:
- FEMA's Caring for Animals has several sections on pets, livestock, and wildlife in disasters.
- Ready.gov's Preparing Your Pets For Disaster Makes Sense pamphlet (PDF) is a brief pamphlet with some basic ideas on pet disaster preparedness.
- The American Veterinary Medical Association's "Saving the Whole Family" videos provide lots of useful information on disaster preparedness for your pets.