Weather Disaster Plan for Your Dog

In Atlanta, a tornado or other crazy circumstances could send the family running for the basement or high ground. Having pre-packed totes for your pets will save a lot of important time and confusion.

The Red Cross, Centers for Disease Control, Humane Society of the US, American Kennel Club, American Veterinary Medical Association, FEMA and others provide online emergency preparedness guides that include your pets. Here’s a rundown to help make it easy for you to be ready.

Planning First
Think about where you can go with your dog if things get worse and you have to leave your home. 

  • Know now which hotels, vets or emergency shelters will take dogs.
  • Get permissions from friends or relatives in advance if you plan to use them as a go-to. 
  • Make sure your pets stay current on vaccinations.
  • Get rabies and bordatella (kennel cough) vaccination certificates to have on hand for your dog’s stay at any shelter or motel. Keep these, along with your dog’s ID photos, in a watertight case for your tote. 
  • Get out your phone and add emergency contact numbers for friends and relatives, emergency shelters, motels, your vet, and your dog’s microchip company, plus photos of you and your pet together to verify your relationship, and photos of the certificates.
  • Plan B: Give a neighbor or relative a key to your house, to rescue the pets if you’re not home. 
  • ID is Essential! Make sure your pup is microchipped with updated information, and has a collar with ID and rabies vaccination tags, in case you get separated. 
  • The ASPCA offers free emergency animal rescue stickers for your home to alert rescuers. If you leave, write ‘Evacuated’ across the sticker.

Tote Basics

You want a tote bag or container with everything you need for your dog in case you have to leave the house quickly, including:

  • Collapsible food and water bowls
    Food and water for at least a couple of days
  • Poop bags and a garbage bag, pet-safe wet wipes, paper towels, and latex gloves
  • An extra leash
  • Comfortable blanket and a towel
  • Pet medical kit with nail clippers, scissors and sticky roll bandages, a pet antibiotic ointment or spray, wound cleaner, eye wash, tweezers, gauze, and perhaps a light muzzle and a calming aid.  Some pet stores and farm and tractor supply stores sell ready-made medical kits. You can download a pet emergency first aid handbook from the AKC, or download the American Red Cross Pet First Aid app to your phone. 
  • Booties in case your dog has to walk through broken glass or flood waters.
  • Include hard copies of photos, phone numbers and certificates in a watertight container. 
  • Two things people often forget: a lantern/flashlight and reading glasses. 

Dog parents also often keep collapsible crate or carrier in the car for overnight stays, that could come in handy.

When to Go, When to Stay

Harness and leash your dog  as soon as you know you need to take action, so you can all move quickly. Don’t wait until the last minute to leave if you need to go to a safer place. Download the FEMA mobile app to your phone to get the latest local updates.

If it’s too late to leave, find a safe place in the house and bring your harnessed dog there with his tote. Then all you need to do is grab your phone, purse, wallet, keys, laptop, and everyone’s Rx medications and rush to safety. Lives have actually been saved by everyone piling into the tub with a mattress for cover.

Please don’t leave your pets behind, expecting them to take care of themselves. Their safest place is always with you. Try to stay calm and positive. Our pets absorb emotions and they will be much more able to take directions when these are given without fear. Hug your dog and tell him it’s going to be OK. 

Heron’s Crossing provides end-of-life care for pets in the Metro Atlanta area. In-home appointments with compassionate vets are available. If you’d prefer a home-like setting away from your home, our Decatur office is also available by appointment.