One year ago today a catastrophic tornado struck Joplin, Missouri, severely damaging or destroying a large number of homes, leaving pet owners and pets with no place to stay. Animal control officers were overwhelmed with more than 1,300 pets requiring emergency medical care and shelter.
When natural disasters like this $2.8 billion tornado occur, it is a quandary for all parties involved. Resources must be quickly obtained and organized, and lives — both humans and animals — are at stake.
Volunteers in Joplin worked around the clock to rescue, identify, provide medical attention, comfort, house, and feed pets separated from their owners in the mayhem and confusion that followed the massive disaster. Many pets eventually made it back to their owners, but a large number did not and were euthanized or adopted out across the country. Similar scenes ensued after Hurricane Katrina and the recent floods in Iowa and Mississippi.
Sixty-three percent of Americans have a feline friend, canine companion, or other type of pet, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. When disaster strikes, pets are often lost or have no place to stay if owners must move to a shelter or a temporary home that cannot accommodate them.
Planning and preparing our family and pets for the unexpected can provide a huge sense of relief now – and perhaps save lives later. What should be included in a disaster preparedness plan?
First, pet owners need to identify friends and family outside their regions who are less likely to be affected by the same disaster and ensure that pets are properly identified. Pet ID tag information should be current and pets need to be microchipped.
Atlantic Veterinary Hospital carries the new, 15-digit, universal ResQ microchips. These microchips can be placed under the skin on the back of the neck during a quick nurse visit and cost $46. Your contact information can be quickly and easily updated as needed online any time at no additional cost.
Second, have an emergency kit for your pets. The kit should include:
- A crate
- Extra leashes
- Photos of your pets
- Contact information for Atlantic Veterinary Hospital
- Your pets’ microchip information
- A pet first aid kit
- A supply of pet food and any medications