Wags & Wiggles Dog Daycare just finished its yearly practice of our Emergency Preparedness Plan for both its Rancho Santa Margarita and Tustin Locations.
As we watch the disaster in Houston play out, it serves as a reminder to us all to get ready for our own local emergencies. Wags & Wiggles has a formal Emergency Pet Preparedness and Evacuation plan which we practice twice yearly to prepare for fire, earthquake or another disaster.
We practice each scenario with our staff including having to move dogs off site to safety. We restock our emergency kits which are full of name bands, collars, leashes, bowls, water and medical supplies. Luckily our software Gingr allows us instant access to all our client’s information even if the electricity is out.
If our facility is affected by a disaster, all checked in clients receive an email and text. This is a good time to make sure you are “opted in” for email and text communication on your Gingr Account. Some clients opt out thinking it’s about marketing. Reports cards, reservations, and emergency notifications won’t be received if you don’t opt in.
Emergency Pet Preparedness Plan is completed by working with our local fire department. Whether your dog is attending daycare or boarding at our facility, we take our job seriously of keeping everyone safe no matter the situation.
It is also time to look at your home Emergency Pet Preparedness. If you are anything like us, we can survive any disaster as long as we have our pets safe. The owners of Wags & Wiggles live in one of our local canyons and has been through a couple fires and earthquakes. We have had plenty of experiences refining our at home plan and here is what you can learn from us:
Home Emergency Plan Essentials
• Outside Signage. Rescuers need to see you have pets that need help.
• Central Command Board. If you have more than one animal, then you need rescuers to see at a glance how many you have and where they are located. We have a bulletin board right inside our door with photos, names, locations of all our pets. This board should state where rescuers should take your pets. You are welcome to list Wags & Wiggles.
• Evacuation Crates. Every dog, cat, bird, tortoise needs an evacuation crate. Your central command board should state where the crates can be found.
• Emergency Kit. Contains 4 days of food, water, and medication.
• Information. Every animal needs identification. Every crate needs identification. Make sure you list a couple different contact numbers in case your cell phone dies and can’t be recharged.
What If You Aren’t Home During an Emergency?
In the event of an imminent disaster to your home, police, and fire may not let you back to your home. Even if you state you have animals to evacuate, if they feel you may get harmed or you may block their rescue efforts, you will not be given access. The police and fire department may be busy rescuing people and will leave it up to local animal control to try to rescue your pets. You should have a list of the local authorities so you know who to call for help.
• Personal Identification. I can’t emphasize enough this one point that people forget. If you can’t prove where you live, police and fire will not let you in. We keep copies of our driver’s license and a utility bill in all our vehicles.
• Water. Your pets may need to be left alone for up to 24 hours until help can arrive. Whether you leave your pets loose or in crates, they should have plenty of water before you leave the house. They can survive without food but not without water.
• Collars & Leashes. The person who arrives at your home to help evacuate may not be an experienced animal person. Make sure your collars and leashes are easy to use, have identification on them, and are either attached to your emergency evacuation crates or your central command board. Our animals actually have 3 levels of identification: the collar they wear has identification, their evacuation crates have identification, and they are microchipped. Your leash should be sturdy with a good handle. Remember, your dog will be scared and may pull hard away from the rescuer.
What Information Should You Include About Each Pet?
As you can see in the photo, each of our crates has a one-page Emergency Pet Preparedness Sheet. Attached to each crate is an emergency kit for that pet that has food, medications, collars/leashes. Our Emergency Pet Preparedness Sheet has the following information:
• Pet Name, Pet Age
• Friendly or Not Friendly
• How To Contact Us Plus One Other Emergency Contact
• Veterinarian & Vaccine Information
• Feeding and Medication Schedule
Remember that if your pet needs an emergency boarding situation in a shelter if the facility doesn’t have access to your vaccine information your pet may be vaccinated again or worse not accepted at all.
How Should I Prepare My Pet For An Emergency?
The most important element to a successful evacuation is your dog’s ability to be leashed and led into a crate. If you do not crate your dog often, your first step is to setup some training sessions so they are comfortable with the process. If a rescuer can’t catch your dog or get them into a transport crate, they may move on to the next house.
Lastly, make your connections now for your Emergency Pet Preparedness Plan. Get an emergency radio. Follow emergency agencies on twitter and facebook. Often times this is your first notification of emergencies. Sign Up for OC Alert. You get phone calls and text alerts. Connect with your neighbors that may evacuate your pets if you aren’t home. Pick your emergency evacuation spot for your family and pets. Find a friends house or safe place to be the meeting spot. If you live in a rural area, make sure there are no trees or shrubs blocking access for emergency vehicles to your property.