GREYHOUND CARE: Disaster Preparedness
When an earthquake, fire, or severe storm strikes, there's no time to make a list of all the things we should do. That's why we need to know in advance exactly how to protect our greyhounds and other pets in case of emergency.
Preparing for Disaster
Make sure your pets have ID tags, and that they wear them all the time—even in the home. This would also be a good time to get them microchipped. GreySave microchips all greyhounds that come off the track, and can chip your greyhound if he or she doesn't already have a chip.
Make plans in case you are not at home with your animals when the disaster strikes. Be sure they have enough water to last at least a day. For large dogs like greyhounds, water bowls with multi-gallon water bottle reservoirs are a good choice. Designate a willing neighbor to tend to your animals if a disaster occurs when you are not at home. This person should have a key to your home, be familiar with your animals, know your evacuation procedures, and know where your evacuation supplies are kept.
Some people put stickers on the front and back doors to tell neighbors, firefighters, police, and other rescue personnel that animals are on your property and where to find your evacuation supplies. Include a note with the supplies that tells exactly what pets you have, and where they like to hide if applicable. Include a signed veterinary medical treatment authorization in your evacuation kit to aid your veterinarian if your animal must be treated during your absence. Include travel carriers for your cats, and train your cats to enter the carriers willingly.
In case you do not have to evacuate your home, but are cut off from normal services, experts recommend that you gather three weeks of supplies for you and your pets. Water is the most important need for you and your pets. Greyhounds need about 1/2 gallon per day (more for high activity or older dogs). Rotate your water supply every three months. Rotate dry food stored for a disaster once a year. If you use wet food, be sure to have a non-electric can opener. Have a radio that operates on batteries (and keep batteries for it!) so you can monitor news reports.
First Aid KitBe sure that your first aid kit includes adequate supplies for your pets. The typical first aid kit has most of the items you'll need to care for your dog or cat. Add tape that will work with a dog's fur coat (first aid tape either doesn't stick or sticks too well). Your dog or cat may get into a poisonous substance as a result of opened cabinets or damaged walls. [See the info below on the National Animal Poison Control Center. See the American Veterinary Medical Association site below for a recommended small animal (i.e., dogs/cats) first aid kit.]
Disaster BackpackKeep a backpack in each of your vehicles with the things you'll need if you have to leave your car and walk to shelter. Include comfortable walking shoes, a blanket/coat, possibly a sleeping bag, water, food, flashlight, and first aid kit. Include enough supplies for you and your animals.
Assemble a kit with the items you and your pets will need if you should evacuate. Include water, food, blankets and toys (to relieve stress) for your pets. [See the American Veterinary Medical Association site below for a recommended small animal (i.e., dogs/cats) evacuation kit.]
• Keep copies of your pets' current vaccinations in your emergency kit. Many facilities will require proof of current vaccinations before housing your animals. Include other animal records such as microchip numbers. Consider preparing Lost Pet signs in advance for each of your pets, with each animal's photo and your contact info (including a mobile number) to use in case your animal is lost.
• Think about how you'll protect your pets' feet if they have to walk where glass and other sharp debris have fallen. You can buy boots for your greyhound.
• Along with current photos of your property, keep current photos of your animals in your emergency kit in case they get separated from you at some point.
• You'll need to take any prescription medications your pets need when you evacuate. Think in advance about where is the best place to keep them.
• Keep emergency cash in your kit. Credit cards may not be accepted if power is out.
• Note down an evacuation site outside your immediate area that you will use if you can. Leave a copy of this info at the site of your evacuation supplies so that people will know where you planned to take your pets. This will also aid in reuniting you with your pets if you are not home when the disaster occurs.
• Include a step by step plan in case of a disaster. Don't wait until the disaster to do this—you won't be thinking very clearly.
The Day of the Disaster
• Pull out your disaster plan and follow it, step by step. Otherwise you're sure to forget something important, especially if you're rushing to evacuate.
• If you evacuate your home, take your greyhounds and other pets with you. Pets that are turned loose or left behind may not survive if you cannot return soon.
Emergency rescue teams in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina did not allow pet owners to bring their pets when they evacuated. [See aNational Geographic article from 2006 on the evacuation fiasco.]
This led to the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act of 2006, which requires that state and local emergency preparedness plans "address the needs of individuals with household pets and service animals following a major disaster or emergency."
Because many emergency shelters do not admit pets, contact your local animal shelters for help in protecting your pets if you are asked to evacuate your home. [You can search for local shelters on thePets 911 Website. To find a hotel in your area that will accept pets, search sites such as Official Pet Hotels. See below for more options.]
Finally, if you need help housing your greyhounds, contact GreySave or the other adoption group from which you adopted your hounds. GreySave will do its best to help find temporary homes for displaced greys.
• Use wire crates to transport and house smaller animals since they provide better ventilation and fold up easily for storage and transport.
• If you live in an apartment, make sure your manager has a record of all your animals. Be sure that your pets are able to evacuate via the stairwell. Dogs should be taught to go up and down stairs to better assist rescue personnel.
• Don't worry if your greyhound does not eat initially. Stressed animals often lose their appetite. A toy might help.
After the Disaster
• As you return home, remember that debris can hurt you and your animals. Scope out your property and home before bringing in your pets. Survey the area inside and outside your home
to identify sharp objects, dangerous materials, dangerous wildlife, contaminated water, downed power lines, or other hazards. (Right: a home hit by Hurricane Katrina in 2006)
• The behavior of pets may change dramatically after an earthquake. Normally quiet and friendly cats and dogs may become aggressive or defensive. Watch your animals closely. Approach and handle them in a calm, quiet manner as they may be upset and confused. Make sure that your fence or wall is still intact. Make sure your pets can't run off during an aftershock or become lost since their familiar landmarks and smells may be altered.
• If your pet becomes lost after a disaster, follow the tips and use the resources on our If Your Greyhound is Lost page.
Agencies and Resources
As you plan, the following sites and agencies may be able to help:
Pet Travel and Lodging Resources
A number of organizations offer advice and resources for traveling with pets, including searchable lists of lodging establishments that accept pets.
• Travel Pets
The Humane Society
Visit the Humane Society's Website on pets and disaster planning.
Disaster Animal Response Teams: If you'd like to help rescue pets, visit the Humane Society of the United States' Volunteer website for information on becoming a member of a Disaster Animal Response Team.
American Red Cross Animal Safety Site
This is a joint effort of the Red Cross and the Humane Society.
American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
AMVA offers a variety of resources to assist veterinarians, animal owners, and others interested in the well-being of animals to prepare for animal safety in the event of a disaster. You'll find extensive info on evacuating many kinds of pets, including birds and reptiles.
• Disaster Preparedness Site
• "Saving the Whole Family" Brochure
Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS)
EARS responds to disasters by sending trained volunteers to rescue, shelter, feed, groom, exercise, and provide tender loving care for any displaced companion animals (dogs, cats, etc.), wildlife, and livestock during the duration of a disaster with no charge to the community.
• EARS Website
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
FEMA is the federal agency that leads the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident.
• Animals and Emergencies: Preparedness Information
Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
• FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine offers the fact sheet "Protecting Pets in a Disaster". This fact sheet provides tips on preparing for a disaster and handling animals during and after a disaster.
National Animal Poison Control CenterIn emergency situations, pets could be poisoned by exposure to harmful chemicals, products, or foods. For information on protecting your pets, visit theAnimal Poison Control Center's Website. See in particular the publication"Keep Your Pet's Home Poison Safe". If you suspect that your pet has been poisoned, call toll-free 1-888-426-4435 (calls are answered 24 hours a day, every day).
by Jim Jeffers