Canadian Marine Mammal Rescue Network

Preparing for Disaster

Long before a Disaster

Disaster Kit

During Disaster/Evacuation

Returning after a Disaster

Companion Animals - Detailed Information

Preparing for a Disaster

1. Reinforce barn, house, and all other buildings.

  • Ensure that they can withstand the types of disasters common in your area.
    • Install hurricane clips/straps to prevent high winds from dislodging the roof
    • Check metal roofing and siding for loose nails, repair any loose nails
    • Check that roof rafters are securely fastened to wall studding, repair any loose rafters
    • Brace large barn doors and weak walls, using both interior and exterior braces
    • Repair deep plaster cracks in ceilings and foundations
    • Back wooden boarding with woven wire
    • Ensure roofs, walls, and windows are water tight
    • Build retaining walls to protect buildings from landslides, flooding, etc. (alternatively you could ensure that the earth surrounding your building is built up to deter water flow away from its foundation)

2. Only plant native, deep rooted plants and trees in areas around your farm

  • This will decrease the chance of plants being uprooted during a disaster and damaging property.
  • This also decreases chances of landslides due to excessive rainfall.

4. Adjust fencing to allow animals to move to safety

  • Barriers around your farm could prevent your animals from moving to higher ground under flooding conditions or to low lying areas in the event of high winds
    • Be sure to adjust fencing and gates to allow movement of livestock to safer areas of your pasture
    • Woven wire fencing is safer than barbed wire fencing

5. Determine alternate water and power sources

  • Identify alternate water and power sources in your area that will be functioning during disaster conditions.
    • A generator is essential if power is required to fulfil the essential needs of the animals.
    • Installing a hand pump can provide substantial amounts of water if town supplies or wells become contaminated

6. Secure potentially hazardous items

  • Some items could become hazardous due to strong winds and flooding (both large and small objects)
    • Bolt down or reinforce water heaters and other appliances
    • Place large and heavy objects on lower shelves, and anchor top-heavy objects
    • Install flexible pipe fittings instead of stiff fittings to avoid gas and water leaks
    • Make a habit of securing trailers, propane tanks, and other large objects
    • Remove any broken planks, exposed nails, and sharp or broken gates that could injure animals or people when wading through floodwater or if picked up by high winds

7.  Ensure all hazardous material is labelled and in a safe place at all times.

  • All agricultural chemicals should be stored in a dedicated, secure, locked facility, with adequate ventilation, temperature regulation, and must be clearly marked with signs
  • Provide local fire/rescue/emergency authorities with information about the location and quantity of any hazardous material on your property

8.  Check wiring to ensure it is safe and not a fire hazard

  • Ensure there are no frayed or exposed wires, and no loose plugs
  • Keep electrical fixtures free of dust, dirt, cob webs, hay, and combustible materials
  • Keep service boxes in a dry, dust free location and mounted on fire resistance materials

9. Ensure safety of all heat sources

  • Make sure all heat sources are clear of flammable debris

Long Before a Disaster

1. Emergency plan

  • Involve all workers, owners, and family members in making an emergency plan that includes all animals.
  • Create a plan for many different types of disasters.

2. “Responsible person” at farm

  • Designate one person to be responsible for unlocking gates, releasing animals, making your farm accessible for evacuation, and to rescue workers.

3. “Responsible person” not at farm

  • Pick someone to assume responsibility for your farm if you are not home during a disaster.
    • Ask someone who:
      • Lives close to your home
      • Is usually home when you are not
      • Is willing to look after your animals
      • Is familiar with handling your animals
    • They should have a key to your home and barn.
    • This person should know where your animals are most likely to be when they enter the farm and where their favourite hiding spots are.
    • They should know where your disaster kit is located.
    • They should be familiar with your evacuation procedures.
    • You should arrange two predetermined meeting spots outside of your local area where you can obtain your animals and seek emergency shelter.

4. List of emergency contacts

  • Including workers, boarders, neighbours, friends, family, etc.
  • Also include people outside your immediate area that you can call for assistance in the event of a disaster or if you are not home when a disaster occurs.
  • Ensure that emergency contacts are familiar with the handling of your animals and know of any animals with special handling needs.

7. Prepare appropriate transportation of all animals for evacuation

  • Trucks, trailers, and other vehicles should be fully equipped, well maintained, and ready to transport animals at all times.
  • If you do not have the capabilities to transport all animals, arrange with neighbours, friends, other farmers or transport companies in your immediate area that can assist you in case of emergency.

9.   Get animals familiar with transportation

  • Practice walking animals on leads
  • Practice loading and unloading animals onto trailers
  • Take animals on small trips to get them accustomed to vehicular travel

10. Train animals to tether

  • If your emergency shelter does not have stalls for the animals you may need to temporarily tether them
    • Get your animals familiar with being tethered

11. Have proper identification attached to all animals

  • Identification methods:       
    • Neck chains
    • Ear tags
    • Brand
    • Tattoo
    • Mark animal with livestock marking crayon
    • Leg band
    • Tail tag
    • Microchip
    • Shave vital information into the animals coat with clippers

12. Identify possible evacuation locations

  • Determine emergency facilities outside your area that can accommodate your animals.
  • Ensure they have facilities to feed and water your animals.
  • Work with your community
    • establish places outside of your immediate area in case evacuations are necessary
    • Possible locations include:     
      • Other farms
      • Fairgrounds
      • Agricultural colleges
      • Auction centres
      • Humane societies
      • Equestrian centres
      • Racetracks
      • Show grounds
      • Convention centres
      • Boarding facilities
  • Have multiple possible locations to go to
    • Ensure that they are in varying distances and directions from your house in case a large area is affected by the disaster.
  • Include address and 24 hour phone numbers of all possible sheltering locations

14. Maintain current vaccinations and tetanus for all your animals

  • This minimizes the spread of disease between animals and protects your animals from disease
  • During disasters there is an increased chance of injury to animals on rusty, broken metal fencing, etc.

15. Lost animals in the event of a disaster

  • Call local animal shelters for information
  • Contact emergency animal shelters and hotlines

17. Disaster Kit

Disaster Kit

1. Food and water

  • Enough food and water for at least 7-14 days for all animals
  • Food can be stored at the emergency shelter locations
  • Ensure that your emergency shelter has facilities to provide free choice water to your animals
  • Keep water out of direct sunlight in cool, dry place
  • Replace food and water every 2 months to avoid spoilage
  • *Horses – have delicate digestive system and you should try to keep a reserve of food that the horse is used to eating.

2. Food and water buckets

  • If possible include an extra feeding/water bucket in disaster supplies

3.  Hay

  • Enough for at least 7 days

4.  Bedding

  • Enough bedding to keep animals dry, warm, and comfortable for 7 days

6.  Medications

  • Enough for at least 7-14 days
  • Place in an airtight, waterproof container
  • Keep a record of dosage and administration schedule
  • Replace often as many medications expire

7.   Basic animal 1st aid kit

  • including an animal 1st aid book
  • Check with veterinarian to recommend contents of first aid kit for different animals

8. Temporary identification

  • Plastic neck bands to which you can attach your name, address, and phone #

9. Non-nylon handling equipment for each animal

  • Including:
    • Halters
    • Cotton ropes
    • Collars
    • Blind folds
    • Any other specific handling equipment for each type of animal

13. Blankets

  • An extra supply can also be used as warmth and bedding for us

14. Cleaning supplies                                                               

  • Including:
    • Shovel
    • Pitch fork 
    • Rakes
    • Sanitation fluid

Husbandry Supplies (as appropriate)

  • Including:
    • Hoof pick
    • Grooming tools
    • Udder cleanser, etc.

15. Current animal information

  • Including:
    • A list of all animals
    • Your name, address, phone #
    • Emergency contact information
    • All animals’ location on the farm
    • Feeding records of all animals
    • Copy of vaccination records of all animals
    • Drug treatment records
    • Copy of records of medical tests
    • Proof of ownership for all animals
    • Microchip number (if appropriate)
    • Name, phone number and address of veterinarian
    • Current photos - These should show any distinguishing features

During Disaster/Evacuation

If you are evacuating the area

1. Take disaster kit with you

  • Ensure all items are easily accessible at the emergency shelter

If staying in disaster location

1. A safe area for you and your animals

  • Find a safe area on your farm where you will be able to avoid danger
  • Shut and nail doors and windows
  • Nail plywood boards over large windows and weak sashes
  • Fill troughs, boats, and large containers with water to weigh down during high winds

If you must leave your animals behind

2. Leave plenty of food and water

  • Ensure that the containers are secure and that they cannot be spilled

After Returning from an Evacuation

2. Survey the area around your home and barn

  • Look for any debris or hazardous materials that may harm your animals, such as downed fences, power lines, nails, glass, metals, etc.
  • Check fencing and gates to ensure there are no areas where your animals could escape
  • If possible, check with authorities or veterinarians about possible diseases spread and health threats caused by the disaster before releasing your animals

3. Check your animals

  • Look for any physical effects and observe them for any behavioural changes

5.   Initially, only release your animals during daylight hours

  • Their once familiar surroundings may have changed during the disaster and may now contain unfamiliar sights and smells that may cause your animals to become disoriented or lost.
  • Ensure that your animals are comfortable at your farm again before leaving them

If you find a lost animal

2. Contact animal shelters and/or emergency hotlines

  • Immediately call or visit your nearest animal shelter
    • Be prepared to give a full description of the animal (breed, sex, colour, distinguishing features)
  • Call and/or visit any emergency animal shelters or phone lines set up after the disaster

3. Only attempt to contain/halter the animal if it is safe to do so

  • WARNING: Stressed, injured, or sick animals can be unpredictable and should only be handled by experienced individuals
  • If you are skilled and can contain the animal by either halter or in a pen safely then do so
  • Supply food and water for the animal, and keep the animal safe until animal shelters or authorities can assist you