Floods and high winds seem to be becoming a regular occurrence in the UK — but as well as extreme weather conditions, incidents such as fires, sinkholes, gas leaks, and domestic and industrial accidents may mean that you need to evacuate your house in a hurry.
While you personally may be able to count on the help of others, have you thought about what might happen to your dog in the event of an emergency? Should you need to evacuate your home it may only be for a few hours, but in the event of a major incident you could be away for days or even weeks. Don’t just have a disaster plan in place for the humans in your family — make one for your pet too.
If you have to leave your house fast in the event of an emergency, you may not have time to pack any essentials your dog will need, so have an evacuation pack ready to grab. Things to put in it might include:
● A blanket which can be rolled up.
● A toy.
● Spare collar with ID and a spare lead.
● Food and water bowls; if space is an issue use collapsible ones.
● A week’s worth of food — this will ensure that any stress caused by being evacuated isn’t further exacerbated by an abrupt change of diet. Hopefully you will be back in your home again fairly quickly, but if not and your dog requires a specialist diet, this will at least give you time to source further supplies.
● Pack a week’s supply of any medications your dog needs; pop them inside a separate, clearly labelled, waterproof container so they are easy to quickly locate inside the pack.
● First aid kit.
● A pack of treats.
● A towel; a microfibre one will save on space.
● Care notes.
● Poo bags.
● Wipes and clean-up items in case of accidents.
● Store a collapsible crate or carrier next to the evac pack, ready to scoop up in a hurry, plus a sheet which can be placed over it. It may be safer for your dog to travel in it, and when you reach your destination it will provide him with an enclosed den where he may feel more relaxed.
● Check any foodstuffs and medications in the evac pack regularly — remove and use them before their ‘Use by’ dates expire, and replace with newer ones.
● Don’t keep your dog’s necessities in a cardboard box; it won’t be very sturdy, things may fall out, and it will be difficult to carry. Instead, pop them in a bag which can be zipped up, a small suitcase, or a rucksack. Keep it where your dog can’t access it, but you can grab it quickly, and above floor level so it doesn’t get wet in the event of a flood.
● Add a luggage label to your dog’s evac pack with your name, your dog’s name, your address, and mobile phone number on it. Write your details in indelible ink in case they become damp.
● Make sure you keep your dog’s microchip details up to date, so that it’s easier for you to be reunited should you become separated.
Many towns and cities in the UK, such as York seen here, have been flooded in recent years.
First aid classes
It’s not a bad idea to take classes in human and canine first aid — you never know when they might come in handy, and could save a life. Your dog may benefit from refresher classes in basic obedience too.
First aid kit
Include a first aid kit in your evac pack; many of the items can double up as a human first aid kit in an emergency. You can buy a ready-made kit or put together your own; don’t forget to replace any items you use, so it’s always kept fully stocked.
● While you’re at it, make up a pocket first aid kit that you can carry with you on walks.
Two terriers are rescued after flood defences are breached in Bewdley, Worcestershire, in January last year.
Where to go?
In the event of an evacuation, stay together if you can, and keep your dog’s collar on at all times. If a centre has been set up locally for you and other evacuees to go to, your pet may be equally welcome there, but it’s sensible to have a back-up plan should that not be the case. If you plan to go to a hotel instead, ring them first to check that they accept dogs.
Depending on circumstances, your dog may have to be boarded at a kennels, in which case having vaccinations up to date will ensure that the doors will be open to him. Your evac pack can be handed over with him, so that his temporary carers will have all the important details to hand, as well as a few familiar items to help him settle.
Alternatively, do you have relatives or friends you could both stay with? It is, of course, a good idea to discuss the idea before you ever find yourself caught up in an emergency.
● Keep your dog on the lead rather than allowing him to roam loose. He may normally keep close to you and be very obedient, but evacuation is not a normal situation and he may feel stressed and behave out of character. Should he get loose and try to return home, the area might not be safe. There’s also the chance that he may become disorientated and get lost, as a major incident can change both the visual landscape and olfactory cues, which he normally relies on.
Although you can store all the important information about your dog digitally (for example on a USB stick) you should also have it ready to hand as hard copy. An ordinary notebook will do fine for this; the spiral bound type will make it easy to tear out pages when the information on them needs updating, so there are no confusions.
Have large, clear headings at the top of each page so that it’s easy for you (or a temporary guardian) to quickly find the information needed, such as food, medications, vet and veterinary history, likes and dislikes, useful contacts.
Add a pocket to the front inside cover into which you can pop copies of microchip and vaccination records; it’s a good idea to also place up to date colour photographs of your dog in there along with a detailed description just in case you become separated and he goes missing. Place the notebook inside a clear, sealable, waterproof plastic bag, and put it in your evac pack.
● In the physical description, include your pet’s name, species, breed, age, sex, colour, distinguishing marks and any other essential information about his characteristics and behaviour.
Away from home
Make sure that friends, relatives, neighbours or anyone who regularly pet-sits your dog knows where to find your evac pack just in case disaster strikes while you are away from home.