Pets and disasters: what you need to know

We’ve all heard about the importance of having a flashlight, a crank radio, cash and non-perishable food in our emergency preparedness kit, but have you considered how you would care for your pet dog, cat or hamster? And what about exotic pets? If you have an animal at home, and according to Statistics Canada, 48% of Canadians report having expenses related to pet care, then read on...

Disaster Animal Response Team of Nova Scotia (DARTNS) was created a few years ago by volunteers to provide emergency assistance to pets impacted by disasters. “Dealing with pets comes up whenever we have an evacuation or have to open a shelter. People are very concerned about the well-being of their animals and it’s important to plan ahead of time to ensure they can be cared for in an emergency,” says Ancel Langille from the Canadian Red Cross in Nova Scotia who works closely with DARTNS and recently signed a memorandum of understanding with DARTNS, a first in Canada.

The non-profit organization also came up with this handy checklist of emergency kit items for your pets! They cover nearly every category, from dogs and cats to birds and reptiles. A pillowcase to transport your pet snake – check. Proof of vaccination for your dog – check. And of course, food, water, litter, toys, leads and everything else your pet will require if you have to leave your home temporarily due to a disaster.

DARTNS works alongside Canadian Red Cross volunteers who provide emergency services such as shelter, food, clothing and more to people affected by an emergency such as an evacuation. Most of the time, shelters and even some hotels cannot accommodate pets. The DARTNS team responds by providing support to pet owners, from running an emergency shelter for animals and providing pet food and supplies to contacting local veterinarians for medical care.

The Canadian Red Cross and the Disaster Animal Response Team of Nova Scotia recently signed an MOU, the first of its kind in Canada.

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