The time to ready your animal for evacuation is not when you are leaving and locking the door. Stage your animal for evacuation so there is less chance for a disaster within the disaster. It is not uncommon for an animal to bolt out the door when there is bad weather approaching or any type of commotion.
Everyone who has taken a cat to the vet knows how difficult it can be to put a cat in a crate. Now is the time to ready your cat for the crate. Confine your cat to a room with no access to a door where people enter the house. Put an open crate in the room and put bedding in it. If possible, feed the cat on the crate. The idea is to get the cat used to the crate.
If this tactic is not going to work, put the crate outside the room on its end with the door open on the top. About an hour before leaving, wrap a towel around your cat (when the cat is playful or eating works best) and drop the cat gently down into the crate, removing the towel as you do. This is best done as a two person operation, so the second person can hold the crate steady.
For a dog, you want to remain calm and not feed into a scared dog’s distress. If the dog is anxious, do not soothe your dog, but act as if there is no storm approaching and talk as if you would when playing with your dog. Soothing a dog validates the dog’s distress. There is a product called Thundershirt that works to calm a dog by tightly wrapping him around the chest. You can find the shirt at pet stores and stores like Bed, Bath and Beyond.
Keep the dog out from underfoot and in a room with no access to a door where people enter the house. Have the crate in that room with favorite bedding inside and put your dog in the crate in the room while the door is shut. Do this about an hour before your leave.
There are numerous online articles listing what to have on hand during a disaster or when evacuating. It is worth repeating that animals need ID on their collars. Write a phone number inside the collar if you have to. Label their crates too. It is a good idea to put the number of a family member outside the disaster area code on the crate. If you can get text on your cell phone, make a note of that on the crate. Texting is sometimes the only way to contact someone when cell service is erratic.
Call and check with the microchip company to verify your animal’s information is up to date. Don’t forget collars and leashes! Good luck and remember, your animals are very sensitive to your mood. If you can stay calm, that will help everyone.
Here are some articles that can help with your evacuation:
Update: Pet friendly evacuation shelters for Hurricane Sandy
Motels that accept animals are welcome stop for evacuees with pets
What to expect at an animal evacuation shelter
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