Pets & Preparations: Tips for Emergency Preparedness

While we deal with an overwhelming hurricane season, we are reminded of how important disaster planning truly is. And with September being National Preparedness Month, we wanted to sit down with some VetCor family members who’ve dealt with disasters to get their advice on protecting themselves, their staff, and patients during potential crises.

practice-plan-prepareDr. Chad Harris, Chief of Staff at North Austin Animal Hospital in Austin, TX and Vice President of the Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation, says that making sure you can always communicate with your team is key. Prior to Hurricane Harvey, he reached out to all his staff and checked with them to make sure they were ready with adequate food and water, and that they had a safe place to ride out the storm.

As many pet owners were forced to evacuate before the hurricane, many of our Houston practices reached out to their clients to provide information and help them get their pets out safely before the storm hit. We are so proud of our teams for working together and on their feet during such a hectic time, to ensure the wellbeing of all the animals in their care.

Preparing your practice to withstand emergencies and disasters is also something to think about, even if you’re not in a high-risk area. Chief of Staff at Countryside Veterinary Hospital in Chelmsford, MA, Dr. Dawn Brooks, suggests keeping emergency boxes on hand. To deal with power outages, she suggests storing battery-powered camping lanterns and head lamps, extension cords, flashlights, and even construction spot lights, and checking batteries twice a year.

So what is our role as veterinarians and animal care takers during emergency situations? Dr. Ilene Segal, Chief of Staff at Parkway Veterinary Hospital in West Roxbury, MA believes it is our duty to be a caring and compassionate presence in our communities. She suggests educating your clients year-round on what they can do to keep their pets safe, (i.e. how to prepare a "go" kit, promoting the importance of microchipping, finding pet friendly sheltering, etc.) She also recommends volunteering in organizations such as local Medical Reserve Corp units, your local Animal Response Team and VMA Emergency and Disaster committees.

Unfortunately, disasters don’t plan ahead. But we can. We hope that all of our friends, colleagues and extended family can get through the recent catastrophes, and any future situations, safe and sound.

Check out these tips to create disaster preparedness checklists and plans for your practice.