How To Prepare Your Pet & Yourself For An Earthquake

By Briana Hansen
Black French bulldog laying down with first aid kit
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Last night, Los Angeles experienced a 3.6 magnitude earthquake centered in West L.A. Of course, the earthquake was relatively mild and was merely enough for people to take notice and, possibly, take cover for a moment. But between the recent earthquakes in Mexico and the hurricanes all over, it's reasonable to expect more major earthquakes could happen in California. And, given the current atypical weather climate all over the United States, there's no telling what may happen when it comes to Mother Nature.

Like any other emergency, earthquakes require that pet owners be prepared. Even though there's some suggestion that dogs and other animals may be able to sense earthquakes and other natural disasters before they happen, that doesn't mean they can always fend for themselves in a scary situation. So here are some helpful steps to keep in mind to prepare yourself and your beloved furry friend for an earthquake.

Pug puppy and his accessories
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Before the quake: Prepare a kit and practice the routine.

Having supplies ready for an emergency is the most important thing you can do. While retailers like Amazon offer pre-packaged kits, you can also do it yourself. Plus, you'll need additional supplements for any pre-packed survival kit anyway.

Eric Rayvid of the Best Friends Animal Society suggests not only making sure your animal has food, water, and basic supplies, but also remember to pack bowls to eat and drink with. He also advises including blankets to make a bed or help keep a pet dry along with kitty litter and poop bags for proper potty sanitation. And, perhaps most importantly, he says pet owners need to include any necessary pet medication and paperwork you have for your animal.

  • 3-7 days worth of sealed food and water
  • blankets
  • crate or carrier
  • food/water bowl
  • kitty litter or poop bags
  • basic cleaning supplies
  • a current photo
  • identification
  • medical records
  • pet medication

Thanks to the passage of the Pet Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act, areas that receive federal funds in emergency situations must provide additional assistance and shelters catering to households with pets. But, those shelters may still require that you show basic paperwork for your animal. So it's essential you have copies on hand if you're seeking assistance either before or after a disaster.

cat hides
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During the quake: Take cover and hold on.

Earthquakes are particularly nerve-wracking because they give no warning that they are coming. Assuming you've prepared as much as you can, the number one thing to do is grab your pet, take cover, and hold on. All animals will react differently in stressful situations, so be prepared to think and respond very quickly to whatever may be happening in your environment.

In a best-case scenario, you and your pet can take cover together. If you've practiced the drill, hopefully, you have a system in place that is familiar to your pet and will help keep them near you and safe during the earthquake.

Remember, you have to put your safety first. So if your pet gets nervous and runs into another room during an earthquake, you should prioritize your own safety. Wait until the shaking has stopped and the aftermath of the earthquake has calmed down before searching for them. There's a good chance they've sought their own safe cover away from you. If it's a priority for you to keep your pet near you during an earthquake, practice with them beforehand.

Little puppy is hiding under cupboard
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After the quake: Damage control.

It's helpful to know your pets go-to hiding spots in case they run away from you during the earthquake. If somehow your pet has escaped your home, spread the word as fast and as far as possible. Make sure you have a clear photo of your pet that you can share with other people who can go on the lookout for them. There are also all sorts of pet facial recognition technologies you can use to outsource the search for your four-legged friend. Keeping proper identification on your animal including collars and up-to-date microchips makes reuniting with a lost pet much easier.

BFAS, who help with rescuing and reuniting pets in all sorts of difficult situations, believe that microchipping is one of the most effective things you can do to make it easier to find your lost animal. Rayvid explains, "When a pet is microchipped, it's an easy scan and maybe a couple of phone calls before a reunion. It becomes a matter of days as opposed to a matter of weeks — potentially even hours."

Seismograph and earthquake
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Remember, emergency situations can happen to anyone. Rayvid adds, "Don’t go in with the mindset that it’s not going to happen to me. It’s going to happen to everybody eventually, especially if you’re living on the coast. This is true for flooding, hurricanes, and all sorts of natural disasters. You need to be ready."

Like any other natural disaster, the best way to have peace of mind for you and your pet when thinking about an earthquake is simply by doing whatever it takes to prepare. Talk to your friends and family about what you'll do in case of an emergency. Have a safe meeting place in mind in case you get separated and lose power. It's also helpful to make sure you know who will grab what (aka who's getting the animals) in case you do need to meet up outside of any danger zone.

Remember to continuously update any emergency kits you may have and consider taking a first aid class at a local community center. There's no telling what may actually happen in the moment. But if you've done your due diligence beforehand, are prepared to act intelligently and quickly during, you'll hopefully be able to thrive with your fur family in tact no matter what the aftermath of an earthquake may be.