It is important that every person who offers pet sitting as a business service be prepared for any disaster that might come his or her way. To have a plan in place to deal with the eventuality of a disaster should be a priority particularly since, in most cases, the owners of the pets in your care will be relying on you to ensure that their pets remain safe. Having a plan already in place before disaster can save valuable time.
Here are 3 tips to remember as you draft your disaster plan:
- Have a safe place you can take pets. If you are forced to evacuate with pets under your care, you will all need a place you can stay. Many disaster shelters, including the Red Cross, do not accept pets, as state regulations for health and safety prohibit them. Learn what resources your local community has to offer to find out which shelter allow pets, or figure out which hotels along your evacuation route are pet-friendly.Talk to other professionals in the animal world, such as shelters and veterinarians, or have friends and family out-of-town help you figure out safe places you can shelter if a disaster strikes. Your clients can also help by providing a list of family and friends who may be willing to care for and house their pets temporarily. Make sure this information is in a handy location, just in case it’s needed quickly.
- Create a portable pet supply kit for disasters. Whether the disaster prevents you from returning home for hours or days, it’s important that you have the supplies essential to the survival of the pets you care for. Have helpful items such as bowls for food and water, extra collars, harnesses, and leashes, bottled water, and extra food stored in a waterproof container that you can easily carry.Ask that your clients provide a kennel, crate, or cage for each pet in their home, along with their pets favorite toy or blanket. Mark each crate with contact information and the name of the pet. You can also ask that your clients obtain a waterproof bag, and place in it a recent picture of their animals, names and ages on the back, copies of vaccination or other vet records, written permission for emergency vet treatment, and information on the temperament of each pet, such as reaction to other animals or favorite spots to hide.
- Have a caretaker that can serve as your backup. Depending on the disaster, it may not always be possible to drive safely. This means you may not have the ability to get to your clients’ homes and pets. Ask that your clients identify friends or family members who can be contacted as an alternate caretaker in the case of an emergency situation or disaster that prevents you from getting to their home. Make sure that anyone who is selected knows about this plan, and are able to find the pet and their disaster supply kit, which should be stored at the pet’s home.
Make sure your plan is written down, as you may have to provide proof that you have permission to be at a home when the owner is not there.
Some other important factors
FEMA recommends that pet owners have ID on their pets, crucial if the pets ever become separated. Ensure that tags are kept up-to-date and fastened securely to the pet’s collar. If there is room, include the phone number and address of your preferred evacuation location. Your clients may also consider having a microchip implanted into their pet.