Your service dog helps you or your loved one with everyday life, but what would happen if there was an emergency? You may be accustomed to taking your service dog with you in public, and hopefully, can do so easily even without service dog certification. In the event of a natural or other type of disaster, you may find people less accommodating if they are concerned about their own safety. It is up to you or the people who support you to make sure you are prepared for emergencies with your service dog. Here are some suggestions to get you started.
Make the Time
Emergency preparedness is time-consuming for everyone, but you should have a plan and know what it is so you can handle whatever comes your way. The effort you make before you need it can help keep you calm when things get a little chaotic.
Have ID Ready
Even if you don’t have service dog certification with the US Registry for service dogs or another organization, you may still want to have some way to distinguish your helping animal’s status from that of a household pet. Have paperwork with you as well as photographs to identify your dog, especially if you get separated. Microchips and tattoos are another way to help recognize your service dog if you are not together.
Pack a Bag
You may have important items ready for yourself in a crisis, but do you have the same for your service dog? Some things you may want to include in an emergency kit are:
• Medications, including heart worm or allergy prescriptions, as well as a schedule for taking them
• Food, water, and a list of dietary restrictions
• Copies of health records and proof of vaccinations
• The name of your doctors and the veterinarian
• An extra leash or collar
• First aid supplies
In addition, you may want to take comfort items along for your service dog, such as a favorite toy and grooming supplies to preserve some of your care routine. A few pet relief pads would also come in handy if you find yourself in a shelter with no facilities for your animal to relieve itself.
Know the Shelters
When emergency shelters are opened to the public, they may be staffed by volunteers who are not as familiar with the rights of individuals who require animal assistance. Emergency sites must comply with Americans with Disabilities Act regulations, which means you do have the right to keep your dog with you. You may want to check with the shelter to ensure they accept service animals before you need to go and let them know to expect you. Be aware of animal shelters in your area in case you are separated from your dog. You may want to have a pet care buddy lined up in the event of an emergency. This can be a person who is familiar with your needs and can also provide the care for your service dog. Keep track of the name and address of the shelter or evacuation site in order to be reunited if you and your service dog are not together.
When people are highly anxious, your service dog may react in kind. Work towards having your animal socialized and comfortable in settings with a lot of people, especially inside busy locations. Keep in mind that shelters are not ideal for anyone, and if you have your service dog with you, you should try to remain calm and encourage your animal to do the same.
With a little advanced preparation, you can make the transition from the every day to an emergency seamless for you and your service dog. Hopefully, you will never need to put your plan into action, but if you do, you will know what to do to keep safe until the crisis passes.