Here's Poppy with her bright red emergency bag ready to go out the door. It's also her pre-packed travel bag with everything she needs, except food and water, when we travel. (We have an emergency backpack that has a supply of food and water for all of us.)
The heart of hurricane season is here. If you have companion animals, you need an updated plan because, should a storm or other disaster strike, you are no longer on your own when it comes to finding shelter for your entire family. You have new resources but should be prepared to use them.
The City of Boston Emergency Management program has a page where you can find an emergency shelter near you.
On that page it says, "This map depicts the locations of all the neighborhood emergency shelters in the City and allows users to enter in their address to find the closest shelter. Each facility will provide safe, temporary shelter for residents and their pets."
But, just in case you are wondering, the Red Cross still says, "Most American Red Cross shelters cannot accept pets because of health and safety concerns and other considerations. Service animals that assist people with disabilities are allowed in Red Cross shelters."
Make Your Own Plan & Emergency Kit
You have to make plans for a safe place to go with your animals in case of an emergency. While large-scale disasters come to mind and the city has a system for that, it could also be a water leak or fire in your building.
If you have a friend or relative who will shelter you for a few days, that is ideal. You should also have the phone numbers of a few pet-friendly hotels, both near your home and in the surrounding areas, where you might reserve a room until the immediate danger has passed and those charged with emergency management begin to offer solutions for families with animals.
MSPCA Emergency Resource Pages
The MSPCA has set up a very complete and helpful collection of disaster planning resources on their website.
State Law Requires that People with Pets are Included in Emergency Planning.
March 24, 2014, Chapter 54, AN ACT ENSURING THE SAFETY OF PEOPLE WITH PETS IN DISASTERS, became law and the planning was to be completed in one year. The key information you should know is:
"Any emergency plan of operations shall include strategies to support the needs of people with household pets and the needs of household pets under their care, including service animals. The local organization for civil defense shall take appropriate steps to educate the public regarding the resources available in the event of an emergency and the importance of emergency preparedness planning."
We recommend that you have a copy of both the law and the city of Boston page with your pet emergency kit. That way, if you should be confronted with someone not familiar with this major change in shelter services, you can show them what the city and state have promised. Below are pdf copies of each page that you can download and print or save to a cloud service, like Dropbox, so that you can retrieve it from your smartphone.
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Words: Penny & Ed Cherubino
Photography: © 2011-2013 Penny & Ed Cherubino