Emergency Preparedness for Pet Owners
Every family should have a personal disaster plan, and Loudoun County Animal Services urges all families to remember their pets in their plans. All owners should have provisions for their pets in case of emergency. Ready.Gov provides helpful information:
The most important thing to remember is that if you have to evacuate, take your pets with you. Even if you think you will only be gone for a couple of hours, conditions can change quickly in an emergency, and you may find that you are unable to return home. Be prepared with a list of places where you and your pet are welcome in an emergency. Here are some resources:
The next step in proper planning for an emergency is to make sure you also have an emergency / disaster supply kit for your pet. Be sure to include a two week supply of:
- Ask friends or family outside your immediate area if they could help shelter your pets during a crisis.
- Call local veterinary clinics and boarding kennels and determine their status in emergencies.
- There are several pet-friendly hotels throughout Loudoun County. Visit www.petswelcome.com for more information.
Should you and your pet become separated during an emergency, it is critical to ensure that your pet has proper identification. Make sure your pet is wearing a collar with tags for proof of rabies vaccination, license (if applicable), and your name and phone number. Use your cell phone number so that you can be contacted even if you are not at home.
Also, consider having your pet microchipped. Microchipping is a safe, permanent way of identifying your pet should they ever be found without a collar. Cats are especially vulnerable as they often wear break away collars which can be lost. The microchip itself is about the size of a grain of rice. It is implanted under the skin in the area around the shoulders through a needle. The procedure is no more invasive than a vaccination shot and requires no anesthesia or recovery time. Most veterinarians perform microchipping for a small fee. Once implanted, the number on the chip can be read by a scanner (similar to a bar code scanner) at animal shelters or veterinary clinics. The number can then be traced back to the owner so that they can be reunited with their pet.
Additional resources for pet owners:
- A sturdy collar and leash with pet ID
- A good sized carrier or crate.
- A photo of your pet (face and body)
- Vaccination records and contact information for your veterinarian
- Litter and a box for cats. Consider pre-lined disposable boxes for ease of travel
- Toys, blankets, and treats to help relieve stress
Take Extra Care with Animals During Winter Weather *
During periods of severe winter weather, animal owners should be ready to protect their pets and livestock. The following are concerns to be aware of and recommendations:
* Information courtesy of the Virginia Cooperative Extension.
- Many animals, especially indoor/outdoor pets, probably do not have an adequate winter coat for protection in very low temperatures.
- Hypothermia and dehydration are the two most probable life-threatening conditions for animals in cold weather.
- Pets should be brought inside or into protected covered areas, provided with plenty of bedding, food and drinking water.
- Livestock should be provided with wind-break and roof shelter, and monitored for signs of discomfort (extensive shivering, weakness, lethargy, etc.). Ensure that animals have adequate shelter with plenty of dry bedding. Do not use space heaters inside barns or places where hay is stored.
- It is very important that livestock be provided extra hay/forage/feed as up to double the calories for normal body heat maintenance may be needed in extreme cold.
- It is critical that animals have access to drinking water. Keep an eye on water sources as they may freeze solid in low temperatures.
- Special attention should be paid to very young and old animals. They may be less able to tolerate temperature extremes and have weaker immune systems.