“Making a disaster plan is more essential than ever during the COVID-19 crisis because some services may be limited and families likely need to give extra consideration to their plans to align with social distancing recommendations,” said Diane Robinson, the disaster services manager for the Humane Society of the United States. “Even amid the pandemic, it is imperative to heed evacuation orders from local officials and remember: If it isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for your pets.”
The Humane Society website has a variety of disaster preparedness resources available on their website and suggests that pet owners keep a disaster kit ready in their homes at all times.
According to those resources, some of the most important items that should be included are:
- 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. A pet first-aid book is also a good idea.
- Cat litter box, litter, litter scoop and garbage bags 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. Make sure that your cat or dog is wearing a collar and identification that is up to date and visible at all times. 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.) If your pet is prone to chewing items, inspect the carrier’s inside to ensure that your pet can’t dislodge or ingest items that could cause injury.
- 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.
Other useful items include a waterproof first aid kit for pets, newspapers, shop towels, grooming tools, and simple household bleach (if you can find it) for sanitizing bowls and scoops. Never put bleach directly onto an animal, as it will cause severe chemical burns. When using bleach to sanitize items your pets might touch, or eat or drink from, remember to rinse the items thoroughly before the animal is allowed to use it.
For more information on how the Humane Society of the United States responds to disaster situations, read their Frequently Asked Questions.