For many Jackson County residents, pets and sometimes livestock are considered important household members. How well you and your animals survive during disasters depends on the steps you take today. Remember - If it’s not safe for you, it’s not safe for them!
Before a Disaster
Make a disaster plan to protect your property, your facilities and your animals. Review and update your disaster plan, supplies and information regularly.
Create a list of emergency telephone numbers, including those of your employees, neighbors, veterinarian, state veterinarian, poison control, local animal shelter, county extension service, local agricultural schools, trailering resources and local volunteers. Include a contact person outside the disaster area. Make sure all this information is written down and that everyone in your family or network has a copy.
Find a Safe Place Ahead of Time
Decide where you will take your animals if you ever need to evacuate. Human evacuation shelters don’t usually accept pets other than service animals, so plan ahead to ensure your family—including your pets and livestock—have a safe place to stay. Evacuation shelters should be a last resort, as they may be full or inaccessible. Have an agreement with a friend, kennel or stable outside your immediate area. Identify pet friendly hotels ahead of time in the event you are unable to stay with friends or family.
If resources allow, Jackson County hopes to offer a pet shelter co-located with the human shelter if the need arises, but this is only available to persons staying in the human shelter. It is not a drop-off shelter for pets. Jackson County also intends to shelter livestock if the need arises. This facility may or may not be located near the human shelter.
In Case You Are Not At Home
Be sure to have an agreement with a neighbor or a friend who can take care of your animals if disaster strikes when you‘re away from home.
Be sure that your emergency plan includes a method to identify your animals. For pets, this could be a collar with an identification tag. If your livestock are not identified by a brand or ear tag, options include a halter tag, neck collar, leg band, mane clip, a luggage tag braided into the animal’s tail or mane, clipper-shaved information in the animal’s hair, livestock marking crayon, non-toxic, non-water-soluble spray paint, or non-water-soluble markers to write on the animals' side.
Make an Animal Emergency Kit
Put together an emergency kit for your animals in case you, or someone you have designated, has to evacuate your pets or livestock from your home. Be sure to include the following types of items:
- Food and water for at least 3 days
- Leash/lead rope
- Pet carrier if possible
- Vaccination records
- Medications/first aid kit
- Toys & treats
- Sanitation supplies
- Current picture of your animal/s
Your veterinarian can help you decide what medications and supplies to put in your first aid kit. Additionally, both the Humane Society of the United States and the American Red Cross have comprehensive lists for first aid kits: http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/pet_first_aid_kit.html
It is especially important for livestock owners to be prepared due to their transportation and shelter needs. Disasters can happen anywhere at any time. Being prepared can help you to act quicker during a disaster. Livestock owners should be prepared to evacuate as soon as an order is given, or earlier if possible.
During some disasters, you may have no choice but to evacuate. Never leave pets or livestock behind during a disaster! Plan to evacuate early if time permits, and remember to bring your animal’s emergency kit.
Emergency Animal Shelters
There may be occasions when assistance, such as emergency animal sheltering, is needed. Emergency shelters for pets and livestock may be opened at the Jackson County Expo or other locations, depending on the disaster. These shelters are only available to those who have no other alternative and priority will be given to those staying at the nearby human shelter. You will be expected to provide care for your animals while they are at the shelter. Disasters can place a great deal of stress on animals. Maintaining regular contact with their owners can greatly reduce an animal’s anxiety.
If You Have To Shelter in Place
Depending on the disaster, it may be safest to shelter in place. Think about how you would care for your pets and livestock and keep them safe during a disaster.
Whenever possible, bring your animals inside. If your animals cannot, or should not come inside, decide whether to confine your animals to available shelter (such as a pen or barn) or leave them out in pastures. Be sure that they have access to an adequate supply of food and water.
Secure or remove anything that could become blowing debris; make a habit of securing trailers, propane tanks and other large objects. If you have boats, feed troughs or other large containers, fill them with water before any high wind event. This prevents them from blowing around and also gives you an additional supply of water.
Carefully inspect pens, runs and other areas for debris and security before allowing your animals access to them. Be aware of hazards at your animal’s level (nose, paw/hoof) such as spilled chemicals, nails or other sharp objects.
Disaster impacts to animals don’t end when you return home. Many times, animals will sense changes to your home and property that may not be readily apparent to you. In the first few days after a disaster, leash your pets when they go outside and always maintain close contact with them. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and your pet may become confused and lost.
The behavior of your animals may change after an emergency. Normally quiet and friendly animals may become aggressive or defensive. Watch animals closely. Check with your veterinarian if you have concerns about your animal’s behavior.