Earthquake Tips for Pet Lovers

Having grown up in Southern California, I’m pretty used to the earth shaking under me from time to time. Earthquakes are a fact of life here, so I’m not as much afraid of them as I am annoyed by them because they always seem to occur when I’m trying to sleep.

By the time July 4th came around, I had spent the better part of a week making the rounds with different media outlets providing tips to keep pets safe during the loud fireworks shows. When I finished my last interview that morning, I was pretty exhausted – so I tried to take a nap. Just as I started to nod off, I was rattled awake by a light shaking. At first, I thought it was just Maddie wagging her tail really hard against the bed. When it kept going, I realized it must be an earthquake.

So much for napping.

Since that day, it seems all conversations have revolved around earthquakes and the ongoing speculation that the “big one” is going to hit any minute. We’re overdue, afterall. Whatever that means.

Whether the “big one” is yet to come or not, now is a great time to make sure we’re prepared in the event that a far more destructive quake occurs. There are many terrific resources out there to help you put together the ideal earthquake kit – but there isn’t as much pet specific information out there. That’s where I come in!

Here are some quick tips to help you take care of your pets in the event of an earthquake:

  • Have a pet disaster preparedness kit ready. Earthquakes and aftershocks often strike without warning so prepare a kit with a waterproof bag, leash, blankets, first-aid supplies, medications and medical records in a waterproof container, food and water bowls, and 7-10 days of food. You should also have your pet’s crate or carrier at the ready.
  • Know where you’ll go in an emergency. Choose a safe place where you and your pets can go in a disaster. Contact your veterinarian for a list of facilities, find a safe, pet-friendly hotel, or ask your local shelter if they provide emergency shelter for pets.
  • No pet left behind. If you have to leave them behind, do not tether, crate or restrain your animals, giving them a chance to escape a dangerous situation, if necessary.
  • Make sure your animals have identification. Your pet’s tag should include their name, your telephone number, and vital health information. You definitely want to microchip your pet to increase the chance of being reunited should you get separated.
  • Take Pictures! Keep photos (digital and in hard copy) of your pet from multiple angles in case you’re separated and need to identify your pet if it is rescued to a shelter.
  • After a disaster, keep a close watch on pets. Keep pets away from power lines, debris, and contaminated ground water from broken water mains and sewers. Give your pets time to re-orient themselves. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered, confusing your pet, who may get lost.
  • Help to manage your pet’s stress. Uncertainty affects animals, too. Your pet may become more aggressive or self-protective after a major event like an earthquake. Their world just got rocked after all (literally), so their base survival instincts may be in full effect. Keep more room between them, other animals, children or strangers. Comfort your pet with lots of pats or hugs, and provide a quiet environment, even if it is not their own home.

Stay safe out there pet owners!