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Disaster, evacuation orders, and your pet: A 72-hour emergency kit, and an evacuation backpack

A new Dog Jaunt reader wrote to me last week and thanked me for the big packing list I’ve assembled (hover over the “Guides” tab, above, and you’ll find it too), saying it helped her and her family gather the gear they needed when they were told to stand by to evacuate — they live in New Mexico, and were near enough to the Little Bear Fire to be watching its progress closely. I was very glad to hear they didn’t have to evacuate, after all, and I was glad that the list helped. It’s not ideal for the purpose, however — I’ve included in it every pet care convenience I’ve ever used or wanted when traveling for pleasure — so here are two lists that really focus on emergencies.

72-hour emergency kit

Earthquakes, not forest fires, are Seattle’s natural disaster, and since I moved to the West Coast I’ve had an earthquake kit stashed in the house (there’s one in each car, too, leaving very little room for luggage and groceries). Ours is now very elaborate indeed, and I’ll spare you the human part of it, but here’s what we have stored in our garage for our pets (currently, Chloe and 3 cats):

Crates and crate equivalents (to allow our cats some room for exercise, while keeping them from wandering; Chloe could also use one of the crates):

Cat run
PetEgo Pet Tube, with comfort pillows
2 Creature Leisure collapsible pet crates

Ground anchors (sometimes called a “tie out stake”) and 3 flexible “leash” attachments, 3 cat harnesses

Dog harness and leash

Small stainless steel food and water bowls (5)

Disposable litter boxes

Poop bags (2 rolls)

Scoop

Litter

Cat food: 10 large cans

Dog food: 3 lb. bag of kibble

Pet treats (dehydrated chicken bits, so equally appealing for cats and dogs)

Water: 2 gallons

First aid kit and pet first aid handbook

I haven’t included them here, but next to the perishable items (water, food and treats), I keep a note of expiration dates, so I can update the kit in good time.

If your pet takes medication, you will want to keep a 7-10 day supply of his medications in your emergency kit (and update the supply regularly).

I keep copies of our pets’ current rabies certificates and shot records on my phone, using the Evernote app — which would also work even if your pet has a more complicated medical history, or you might prefer to store their info on a thumb drive in the kit (but remember to keep it current).

All of our pets are microchipped, and they all wear collars with our phone numbers woven into them (Chloe also has an ID tag, but the cats won’t tolerate tags).

Evacuation kit

But what if circumstances force you to leave your house altogether? Our 72-hour kit is quite bulky, and isn’t packaged for a quick getaway. If you live in an area that’s prone to serious natural events like fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, or earthquakes, consider readying a couple of emergency backpacks (one for you, and the other for your pet) that you can toss in the car, or over your shoulders, if you have to leave your home in a hurry. Here’s what an emergency evacuation kit for a small dog should include:

Sturdy travel carrier with comfortable pillow base (can double as a crate, in a pinch) — confirm that your pet’s carrier has a good way of being secured by a car’s seat belt

Extra dog harness and leash*

2 bowls for food, water (to save weight, choose folding bowls)*

Poop bags (2 rolls)*

Dog food: 3 lb. bag of kibble*

Large bottle of water, or WaterBites packets*

Medications*

All of the items I’ve marked with a [*] I suggest putting in a small light backpack, like this one from REI, and storing them inside your dog’s regular travel carrier (for us, it’d be the large SturdiBag, or, perhaps, Chloe’s Creature Leisure Carry Den XT). That way, in an emergency, you can either dash out the door with your dog on her regular leash and the carrier and contents over your shoulder OR you can put your dog in the carrier, pulling the small backpack out and carrying it over your shoulder.

Well before an emergency evacuation happens, find out if the emergency shelter you’d be sent to allows pets to accompany evacuees. If you’d be likely to be able to drive yourself to safety, make a list of pet-friendly hotels in a day’s drive radius. Ask friends who live within a day’s drive if they would be willing to let you and your pup sleep on their couch in an emergency. In short, think through the logistics of an evacuation, ask questions of your local emergency management office, and make a plan that includes both you and your pet.

I am always — always — open to good ideas. If your emergency kit includes items mine doesn’t, please let me and other Dog Jaunt readers know about them!