May 12 was declared as National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day by The Federal Emergency Agency’s Citizen’s Corp in 2010. This day serves to remind all people that both pets and livestock need some sort of help during harsh times. Motivated by recent catastrophic events and natural disasters where many animals were accounted for dead in the aftermaths (ex. Hurricane Katrina – 600.000 animals killed)
When large natural disasters occur, the most important thing is the people and rescue and treatment of animals is a low priority. But that doesn’t mean that the people shouldn’t educate themselves more about the measures to be taken when a helpless animal’s life is at stake.
First of all, every owner should be aware of the most common type of natural disaster, considered to be endemic to his area of residence. The east-coast is frequently hit by hurricanes, while earthquakes tend to happen more on the east. The central part of USA is usually reserved for tornados. There are many interactive maps on the internet that will show you what to be most prepared for.
So basically, this is a day for education, or education and training. Veterinarians and kennel operatives are highly encouraged to use this event in educating the general public on how to prepare for natural disasters and what to put their focus on regarding their animals.
Watch this video about the Australian fires and how that affected the koala population.
Pet First Aid Kits for National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day
What you can do as an owner, is use this day to create a pet first aid kit in your home. This first aid kit must contain bandages, gauze roll and pads, pet food, blankets and towels, antiseptic solutions, medical thermometers, tweezers, harness or a leash, crucial medications, a life vest, jacket or a sweater, your pet’s photo, medical records, and microchip. You can add some pet toys or a thunder jacket to keep them calm during nervous times.
All the food and the first aid kit should be stored in a waterproof container that’s airtight. Food stocks that will keep your pet full between five to six days are considered to be enough when a natural disaster occurs. You must know and inform everyone in the house where the pet first aid kit is stored and even practice a bit with your pets and family members evacuation protocols.
When a disaster occurs, never leave your pet behind and always keep contact numbers and addresses of local shelters that will accept animals during catastrophic events. Another good idea would be to identify a family member or friend that can take your pet in at short notice if you will not be able to keep your pet physically with you during the disaster period.
Make sure to discuss this with them before hand so that they are aware of your decision.
You can also read our other article on Pet First Aid Awareness Month, which is observed in the month of April.
Committee on Disaster and Emergency Issues
The CDEI was established in 2001 by the AVMA in order to provide adequate guidance and expertise on this subject.
The major role of the committee is to address the roles of veterinarians in emergency issues and address the effects natural disaster inflict on public health, animal health and the veterinary profession in general.
Many written materials, videos, and podcasts have been developed by the AVMA to help both veterinarians and owners prepare better when emergencies occur. You can find these resources at the following link: https://ebusiness.avma.org/ProductCatalog/product.aspx?ID=193
This emergency preparedness and response guide contains more than 400 pages with information on how to prepare for disasters and what to do when they occur.
You can also read up on our other blog post on World Bee Day. This is another animal observance that is celebrated in the month of May.
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