Post-quake survival: pet edition
April 2, 2011 8:54 PM   Subscribe

DisasterFilter - What steps can I take to ensure my pets survival in the case where a disaster strikes and I can't get home?

This one comes from The Boyfriend, who is understandably concerned about our pets' safety in the event of an earthquake, seeing as how we live in Japan. So it's something important to plan for.

The advice I've Googled on disaster pet safety is good, but all rests on the assumption that one or both of us would be home when the quake/tsunami/alien invasion strikes.

But what if we aren't? And, with things like train stoppages and neither of us having a car, what if we can't get home for a couple of days or more? What can we do in advance to give them the best chance of making it through?

Important stats: The pets are a cat and a dog, both reasonably young and not on any permanent medication. The dog is a pug, which presents its own challenges, and the cat is a former street cat that we picked up as a kitten. We live on the 10th floor of a 13-story condo building in Osaka.

I work about 25 miles away, and if the trains stop then I have no transportation. The Boyfriend currently is between jobs, but hunting for a new one. Regardless, as mentioned above, we have no car and the bicycles will be here at home. Convenient.

This is more of a "peace of mind" issue than anything else, but - what products should we look into or steps should we take (beyond standard earthquake-proofing) to give them time for us to get home?
posted by MShades to Pets & Animals (7 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I'm looking into this myself, though more because I figure I could drop dead at any time.

There are a couple of timed feeders on the market. The simpler just pops open two compartments, each on its own timer. The more complex rotates to present one of five compartments. For either, you fill the compartments with food, then set the time to pop.

Cats who get wet food don't actually need water, but presumably any timed feeder would be dry food. A pet fountain might work, but if it's connected to the mains and the power goes out, it's not going to circulate the water. That'll be OK if its the type that just recirculates from the exposed water basin, and not a closed basin.

And of course, in an emergency, your pets may get loose, so you want them vaccinated and microchipped.
posted by orthogonality at 9:17 PM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have a sticker on my window that I got from the ASPCA. It says that there are two cats in the home and if there is some emergency to please rescue them. It also has my phone number on it (the window is three stories up and faces the fire escape at the back of the building, so I was OK doing this--a front window might have some privacy concerns), in case I'm not at home. The ASPCA membership card also had a spot on the back that says I have pets and lists emergency numbers in case anything happens to me. I keep it in my wallet at all times.

These won't cover all the bases, but I think they are helpful things to do to help protect your furry family members in case something goes wrong.
posted by Fuego at 10:08 PM on April 2, 2011

Rescue stickers are great. Also, be sure that you always leave the bathroom door open, and the toilet lid up. That way if you can't get home, your animals can get some drinking water.

Animals can go without food for quite some time, but not water!

You can also buy and use a very very large water dish (and always keep it full) if your pug isn't tall enough to drink out of the toilet.
posted by ErikaB at 10:26 PM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have given a house key to a trusted neighbor who is retired and home most of the time. This strategy came in handy when our building had a fire scare. By the time I got home in a panic, my dog was already being lead around the neighborhood, peeing on every bush he came across.
posted by Foam Pants at 11:13 PM on April 2, 2011

Make a plan. Ask friends who do live/work nearby to be the people who check on your pet's safety after a quake. Here in the Bay Area, it's something we think about too - I'm on the list of people who can pick up friends' children at their preschool, and they have keys to my place to check on my dog. The suggestion for extra water bowls are good, though they may spill in a quake. Your best bet really is going to be having a plan in place with other people - you can use a tool like Safety Maps to make plans of where to meet & ask your friends & neighbors to let you know where they plan to be in an emergency.
posted by judith at 11:49 PM on April 2, 2011

Best answer: Above advice is good, as well as training the pets to have a "home inside your home" that they go to. With dogs, this is somewhat easy via crate training. You give them at least the opportunity to hide in their crate when they get freaked out. Cats are a little more difficult, of course, but they also tend to like little nooks that they can get into.

So, give them crates/nooks that are somewhat protected from falling debris and crushing.
posted by gjc at 7:31 AM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Along with everything upthread, I think it is also good to be communicative with the people around you. We always let our apartment manager know when we are going away and when we'll be back, and if the dog has come with us or we got a house sitter. My hope is that if it seems like we have been away for a few days without telling anyone, she'll think to check up on us/ our pets.

We should probably do a better job of regularly picking up our mail, though. Seems like mail carriers are often people who notice unusual behavior.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:38 AM on April 3, 2011

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