By Janet McAfee

California has been shaken by hundreds of mini quakes in recent years as scientists speculate about the timing of “The Big One” that could bring serious destruction.  A major earthquake fault runs through the Coachella Valley.  Preparing ahead of time is crucial, and those of us with pets must plan for them as well.

We recently witnessed the crisis of Southern California mountain residents running out of food due to heavy snowfall.  Desperate people attempted to walk through heavy snow only to find that the small nearby grocery stores had closed.  While the desert region need not worry about snow, we must be prepared for earthquakes.

The 10 freeway, our primary egress from the area, could become so crowded that there is no way to evacuate from the Coachella Valley.  In addition to stocking up on food and water for our human family members, it is wise to have a month’s supply of dog and cat food on hand in case local businesses are closed or run out of merchandise.  If your pet requires medication, have refills on hand.


Here are some additional tips to ensure that Fluffy and Fido are well cared for during an emergency:

  1. Make sure your pet wears a collar with an engraved ID tag containing your contact phone number.  Petco and PetSmart can make personalized ID tags for a nominal cost.  It’s best to use your cell phone rather than a land line number. Make sure you keep information up to date.  An engraved ID tag is the quickest way to get your pet back to you should he escape for any reason.
  2. Get your animals microchipped by a veterinarian or low cost spay clinic.  A microchip is a tiny device the size of a grain of rice inserted near the pet’s base of the neck.  It contains its owner’s address, phone, and all contact information.  All shelters and veterinarians have scanners that can read this information.  However, a significant percentage of microchips are not registered, so please be sure to do so and make sure you keep information updated.
  3. Make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date in case he is exposed to contagious illnesses during an emergency.  Keep copies of your pet’s medical records in your earthquake kit.
  4. Pack bandages and other first aid items, pet food, bowls, emergency contact information, kitty litter, basic cleaning supplies, and favorite toys for comfort.
  5. Have enough crates and carriers to contain all your pets should you need to evacuate.
  6. Keep your vehicle’s gas tank at least ¾ full and keep sufficient cash on hand.
  7. Again, have a month supply of food for you and your animals should you be unable to evacuate.
  8. Have flashlights with extra batteries in case of power failures.
  9. Have sufficient leashes and harnesses to contain all your dogs as you may have to walk them in unfamiliar areas.
  10. Arrange with a neighbor to take in your pets should you be away from home when an emergency strikes and unable to get their quickly.
  11. Locate “pet friendly” locations ahead of time, including hotels and out-of-town friends who would welcome your pets into their home during a crisis.
  12. Take current photographs of your pets and store them on your cell phone.

If your pet goes missing during a natural disaster, or for any reason, check local shelters online and in person.  Planning ahead brings peace of mind and could save your life and the lives of your 4-legged family members.

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