As a professional pet sitter, you must be prepared to respond appropriately in the event of a natural or man-made disaster. How professional pet sitters can help in times of disaster
The safety and well-being of the animals in your care are your top priority as a pet sitter. Emergency preparedness is an aspect of pet care that is frequently overlooked. It is critical to have a plan in place for unexpected events such as natural disasters, medical emergencies, or other unforeseen incidents in order to provide the best possible care for your furry charges.
Create an Emergency Plan
The first step in pet-sitting emergency preparedness is to educate yourself about potential hazards in your area. Natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and wildfires, as well as man-made emergencies such as power outages or chemical spills, could be included. Knowing what to expect will assist you in properly planning and preparing.
Once you've determined the potential hazards in your area, you can begin assembling an emergency kit. This kit should include essential items for your pets, such as food, water, and medical supplies, as well as important documents such as health records and identification. In the event of an evacuation, consider purchasing a portable carrier that can be easily transported. It's also critical to have a plan in place for where to take your pets if you have to evacuate your home or workplace.
Along with an emergency kit, you should have a plan in place for how you will respond in the event of an emergency. This plan should include a designated meeting place, a method of communicating with family and friends, and an evacuation route. Make a list of emergency contacts, including a veterinarian, and ensure that all of your pet's information is current and easily accessible.
It is also critical to practice your emergency plan on a regular basis. This will help you identify any gaps or weaknesses in your plan and allow you to make any necessary changes. It will also assist you in remaining prepared and confident in the event of a true emergency.
Finally, emergency preparedness is an important aspect of pet sitting. You can ensure the safety and well-being of the pets in your care during any unexpected event by educating yourself, preparing an emergency kit, and having a plan in place.
Denise Fleck, owner of Sunny-Dog Ink, presented a general session on Pet Disaster Preparedness at PSI's recent 2015 Pet Sitter World Educational Conference & Expo. During her presentation, she revealed an intriguing—and shocking—statistic about human reactions to emergencies.
- 75% of people need to be told what to do.
- 10-15% of people react incorrectly.
- 10-15% of people respond appropriately.
As a professional pet sitter, you must be among the 10-15% of people who are knowledgeable and prepared to respond appropriately in the event of a natural or man-made disaster.
Natural disasters can range from hurricanes to blizzards to flooding and wildfires, depending on where you live. Man-made disasters or emergency situations, such as plane crashes, train derailments, chemical spills, and widespread power outages, could occur regardless of your location, preventing you from reaching pets in your care or forcing you to evacuate quickly.
When Disaster Strikes, Preparation is Essential for Keeping Pets Safe
- Assume an unanticipated disaster or emergency occurs and you have only 30 minutes to evacuate:
- Can you fit all of your animals into carriers?
- Do you have enough carriers for all of your pets?
- Are all pets wearing identification?
- Do you have a current photo of your pets in case one of them escapes?
- So, where are you going?
- Is your gas tank at least 12 percent full?
- Do you have emergency funds in the form of small bills?
- Do you have your pet's medical records, food, litter pans, cleaning supplies, and pocket pet, bird, and other specific requirements?
As a professional pet sitter, you must answer these questions in order to have a plan in place not only for your own pets but also for any pets you may be caring for at the time.
Your Clients will Also Require a Disaster Plan
The information provided above should be shared with your pet-sitting clients to assist them in preparing for a possible disaster that requires them to evacuate with their pets. However, it is also critical to have a specific plan in place in case of a disaster while the pet owners are away.
An important question to ask is whether pet owners have designated caregivers who can evacuate their pets in the event of a disaster. If this is the case, make sure you have complete and up-to-date contact information for the designated caregiver.
If YOU are your clients' designated caregiver in the event of an evacuation, make sure they have pre-packed the supplies they will need for their pets in the event of an evacuation. You simply cannot have enough supplies to care for all of your client's pets.
It is also critical that first responders understand that you are the designated caregiver for your client's pets and have permission to enter the home to remove pets if necessary. As proof, keep your signed pet-sitting contract and a pet alert wallet card on hand.
If You Must Stay at Home, Do so Safely
If your family and pets must wait out a storm or other disaster at home, designate a safe area where everyone can stay together. Prepare your emergency supplies in advance, including your pet's crate and supplies.
Along with your other emergency supplies, keep any medications and a supply of pet food and water in watertight containers. Close any open fireplaces, vents, pet doors, or other similar openings in the house with plastic sheeting and strong tape. Close off or remove dangerous nooks and crannies where scared cats might try to hide. Move any dangerous items that have been stored in the area, such as tools or toxic products.
Bring your pets inside as soon as local authorities say there will be trouble. Keep dogs on leashes and cats in carriers, and ensure they are properly identified.
Follow local news outlets online or listen to the radio on a regular basis, and don't go outside until you're sure it's safe. The National Hurricane Center allows you to track active storms.
Once you complete a disaster plan, keep it on file, but also provide it for current and prospective clients. Having a plan in place will allow you to implement a detailed, practical plan of action if disaster strikes. It is essential to be prepared for any potential emergency situation, and having a plan in place is the best way to do this. A plan should include all the necessary steps to take in the event of a disaster, such as evacuation routes, and emergency contact, as we've discussed. These things are essential for anybody owning a pet, not just pet-sitters, so it pays to be prepared for any situation.