May 22, 2011 is a day that will forever be remembered by people from the Four State area. If there is one lesson we learned from the tornado that tore though Joplin that day, it was the importance of preparation. Severe weather can strike on short notice and when it does, being prepared makes all the difference. As the season for severe weather approaches here are some tips to make sure you are prepared to keep your pet safe.
Bring Your Pets Inside
If the weather outside isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for your pet. Make sure your pets are inside when severe weather threatens. It is also a good idea to crate your pet or place them in a carrier. In the event you have to quickly leave your home or seek shelter, it may be difficult to get your pet to cooperate with you. We heard many stories from pet owners after the 2011 tornado that they were unable to get their pet to safety because they were afraid and hid from the owner.
Prepare a Tornado Safe Area
If you will be seeking shelter in your home during a tornado, prepare a safe place for your pet in that area as well. Have a crate or carrier for your pet to stay in as loud noises can be scary which can cause your pet to behave unpredictably. Keep a supply of food, treats, water, and any medications you pet may need in the shelter area. Also have items such as a litter box with a supply of litter or puppy pads available.
Prepare an Emergency Travel Bag
If you will be seeking shelter somewhere other than your home, prepare an emergency travel bag for your pet that is easy to take with you. This will save precious time in the event you have to evacuate your home and help ensure you don’t forget anything. The emergency bag should include essentials like food, water, treats, and any medications your pet takes. Other items that may be useful include an extra collar/harness and leash, potty pads, cleaning supplies and toys.
Practice Getting to Your Safe Area
If you need to seek shelter or evacuate your home due to severe weather your pet may be nervous in the hustle of getting to safety. It is a good idea to practice your plan for seeking shelter so your pet is familiar with the process and is less likely to be frightened.
Make Sure Your Pet is Identifiable
Make sure your pet is at least wearing a collar with identifying tags on it. Collars don’t stay on all the time though. We highly recommend microchipping your pet and surveys have shown that if your pet is microchipped, they are much more likely to be reunited in the event you are separated from them. This was certainly true after the 2011 tornado that struck Joplin.
After a Tornado
The aftermath of a tornado can be a disorienting and distressing time for your pet. For their safety do not allow your pet to roam loose. Your pet can easily get lost in such conditions and should remain leashed or in a crate/carrier. Be patient with your pet after a disaster and try to get back to their normal routines as quickly as possible. Be watchful for any behavioral and/or medical problems that may arise during stressful situations and contact your veterinarian as soon as you notice a problem.