Evacuating pets during an emergency

Just a few weeks ago a family friends house burnt down. It obviously strikes fear into the hearts of any pet owner that during an emergency you can very suddenly, with very little warning be forced to evacuate. It didn’t hit me personally how traumatic it can be until I personally experienced that trauma during the Durban unrest in July 2021. I was fortunate I didn’t need to evacuate but I now realise how important it is for a family to have some sort of evacuation plan to not only keep their family safe but also their fur babies.

Know where everything is. Cats need to be transported in sealed boxes. Dogs need a leash. Know where those are and make certain they are available quickly during an emergency. In a rapidly escalating environment you definitely do not want to be searching for something quite basic that could save your pets life.

Be prepared for them to be hiding. Your pets will be scared. Scared pets hide. Be familiar with their hiding places and be ready to reach in and get them from those places.

Food and medication. You’ll need to assess the situation. How important is it for you to take food and medication with you. With our family friends fire, food was available. during the unrest in Durban food was not.

Your pet is going to be stressed. Take a blanket or something familiar with you – provided you have the time – to calm them down and let them know they’re safe and it’s ok.

Humans before pets, pets before any other valuables. Understand what is most important and be ready and able to make some very tough calls in that moment of panic. Protect all the humans in the family then protect the pets. They are part of your family and cannot be replaced. Don’t risk your life unnecessarily.

It gave me enormous comfort knowing that if I had to abandon my pets they had a tracking device on them to help me find them. Make sure you have a tracker on them too. If the hiding place is too dangerous your pet will move to another location – even if it means they get lost. Do whatever you can to help them find safety again or give yourself the best advantage in finding them again.

Keep your pet access points open. Your pets will be panicking as much as you. They will go into a hyper stressed mode and stop thinking… if they need to move they will move along paths familiar to them. If those doors/windows are closed they will be trapped. Open up those paths to help them escape if you are unable to find them or catch them.

Nobody expects or plans to evacuate their home. Terrible things happen with little or no warning. Love your pets during those terrible times because I am 100% certain your pets are with you during your terrible times.

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