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How to Prepare to Evacuate Your Dogs in an Emergency
Natural disasters requiring evacuation, from fires to floods, seem to be be more common these days. If you are a dog owner or breeder, you must prepare to evacuate your dogs, as well as your families, in short order. I’ve been thinking about and preparing for this outcome since fires hit our area of NC a few years ago.
How to Evacuate Your Dogs
1. Prepare Ahead
Evacuating more than a dog to two can be a daunting task, especially in an emergency. Sometimes you might have days warning but at other times, you may only have minutes to pack, load dogs, and head for safety. Planning ahead will help you make good decisions at a time of extreme stress. Better yet, actually prepare to evacuate with emergency supplies, copies of documents, and communication and transportation plans.
2. Plan Transportation
To start with, we need fully fueled vehicles that are able to fit all of our dogs. I know breeders who have had to choose which dogs to evacuate because they didn’t have enough space in their vans and trucks. Those are tough decisions to make! To avoid that, have a plan for all the dogs and update it regularly. If you can’t transport your dogs in one vehicle, know where you will drop the first set of dogs as you go back for the others. Don’t forget to test your plan–do an evacuation drill with your vehicles, drivers and dogs.
3. Identify Evacuation Locations. One of the most important planning decisions that dog breeders must make is where to evacuate the dogs. Unlike more typical pet owners, finding a safe place with multiple dogs and possibly litters of puppies, is more challenging. The location you choose determines what you need to take, such as exercise pens, dog gates, tie outs, and weather protection. You may ‘trade’ safe locations with a dog friend who has kennels or just a lot of space. Be sure you know which local evacuation areas allow dogs and set a family meeting point in case everyone is not home when you are evacuated. One reader has permission to use part of her church’s area in case of emergency.
4. Gather Supplies
Next, you’ll need food, water, medicines, leashes, identification, and first aid supplies for every dog. The more of these you have consolidated ahead of time, the faster and easier your evacuation will be.
Our Emergency Evacuation Plan for Our Dogs
Our emergency evacuation plan begins with outfitting our vehicles. Then we preposition additional supplies in our garage so they are easy to find and load.
To start with, we always have crates for each dog, and at least one ex-pen, in the van at all times. On each dog’s crate, we have:
- a sturdy, six-foot leash
- Collar embroidered with our emergency contact, my cell phone number. (Use cell phone numbers on collars since you may not be able to access your home phone.)
- A plate on each crate that says, “In Case of Emergency, veterinary expenses are guaranteed by owner and their agents. Phone number on reverse.” We got ours from EZU Signs.
- A 3-ring pencil pouch clipped or zip-tied to the crate the contains:
- a description of the dog, including its microchip number and current photographs (headshot and full body)
- an ID tag for the dog’s collar
- contact information for others who can take responsibility for the dog, if we are unavailable
- important health information, including a list of medications
- a copy of the dog’s rabies certificate
- registration or adoption papers proving ownership
- poop bags
- By the way, these “emergency pouches” make great prizes at dog events if they include first aid and evacuation lists.
In addition, we keep the following items in each dog’s evacuation kit that is stored close to the vehicle:
- medications for several weeks
- flea and tick preventative, and heartworm treatment for several weeks
- prescriptions for medication
- favorite chews and toys to occupy dogs for long periods
Your kennel evacuation kit can be contained in a few 5-gallon cans in the garage and should include:
- food and water for each dog for 2 weeks
- duct tape
- permanent markers
- muzzles for the dogs
- tie-out cables
- tarps with clips and ropes for shelter, separation and/or flooring
- long lines and/or flexis
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Create Your Dogs’ Emergency Evacuation Kits
You can use this list to create your dogs’ evacuation kits or purchase pre-prepared kits, like the Emergency Evacuation Kit for Dogs from Pet Evac Pak. Add items specific to your dogs, such as grooming supplies for those that need to be groomed regularly, favorite treats, and beds, blankets and coats for short-coated dogs. Once you have created a kit for each dog, set yourself a reminder to check and update the kit annually to make sure the food, water, first aid items, and medications have not expired, and each dog’s paperwork is up to date.
I purchased a Pet Evac Pak to see what it was like and reviewed it for you in the video below.
What’s To Like About the Pet Evac Pak
- Sturdy packaging. The Pet Evac Pak comes in a rugged bag that enables you to easily carry critical supplies for each of your dogs. This will enable you to grab your dogs’ bags and head out the door without taking time to go looking for supplies.
- Three days of supplies. Each bag includes food, water, and basic supplies for a dog for 3 days.
- A size for every dog. The Pet Evac Pak comes in three sizes, for small, medium, and large dogs. You can get the small Paks with or without a pet carrier.
Downsides of the Pet Evac Pak
- Suboptimal food. There are three 8-oz packets of dog food with pretty poor quality ingredients. However, the food is 20% protein 10% fat which, though not optimal, would certainly do in an emergency. You can always replace the included food with your dog’s own food.
- Not enough food and water. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends you evacuate with 14-days’ supplies for each dog, rather than the three in this kit. Although we feed raw, we always keep a full bag of kibble on hand in case of emergencies.
- Cost. The Pet Evac Paks are not cheap, -although I don’t know that you can make your own for a lot less. At the time I wrote this, the Paks are about $70 for a large, $68 for a medium, and $50 for a small.
If an emergency should strike while you have a litter of pups at home, evacuating will be even more difficult. Newborn pups can be transported in a warming box, like these made by Klasi Kreations.
Don’t forget supplemental heat, such as microwavable discs or a heating pad.A kids’ pool can be used as a whelping box for pups up to 2 weeks of age. We have a storage box ready to go with everything we’d need to supplement the pups, from feeding tubes and bottles to cans of goats milk and Karo syrup.
Older pups should be transported in crates to keep them safe while traveling and when you stop. Then an additional x-pen can be used as a puppy pen. Be sure to include the pups and their dam when you calculate how much water and food you need to carry with you. Don’t forget to grab bedding and toys for the pups.
Thinking through how you will evacuate your dogs and litters now may be vital to your dogs’ safety and your peace of mind during an emergency. Get started today and let us know what you add to your evacuation kits!
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