Starlight Pet Talk

Pet Disaster Preparedness: Essential Tips from the Red Cross

June 25, 2024 Season 2 Episode 24
Pet Disaster Preparedness: Essential Tips from the Red Cross
Starlight Pet Talk
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Starlight Pet Talk
Pet Disaster Preparedness: Essential Tips from the Red Cross
Jun 25, 2024 Season 2 Episode 24

In this episode of Starlight Pet Talk, host Amy Castro discusses disaster preparedness for pets with Roxana Petzold from the American Red Cross. They cover common disasters that pet parents need to prepare for, such as hurricanes and wildfires, and provide tips on how to make a plan, pack a go bag, and stay informed during an evacuation. They also discuss the importance of microchipping pets, developing a buddy system, and training pets for emergencies. The Red Cross offers resources and tools on their website, including a free pet first aid app.


  • Every pet parent should have a disaster preparedness plan in place, regardless of where you live
  • Make a plan, pack a go bag, and stay informed during an evacuation
  • Microchip your pets and keep medical and other  records up to date
  • Develop a buddy system with friends/family to support each other during  disaster
  • Train your pets basic commands and familiarize them with carriers and crates
  • Be sure to check out the American Red Cross offers resources and tools for pet owners on their website

Learn more about the MANY Red Cross pet preparedness resources! 

Comment on this episode! For questions or if you need a reply- please email us at

Support the Show.

Support the show:

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Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Starlight Pet Talk, host Amy Castro discusses disaster preparedness for pets with Roxana Petzold from the American Red Cross. They cover common disasters that pet parents need to prepare for, such as hurricanes and wildfires, and provide tips on how to make a plan, pack a go bag, and stay informed during an evacuation. They also discuss the importance of microchipping pets, developing a buddy system, and training pets for emergencies. The Red Cross offers resources and tools on their website, including a free pet first aid app.


  • Every pet parent should have a disaster preparedness plan in place, regardless of where you live
  • Make a plan, pack a go bag, and stay informed during an evacuation
  • Microchip your pets and keep medical and other  records up to date
  • Develop a buddy system with friends/family to support each other during  disaster
  • Train your pets basic commands and familiarize them with carriers and crates
  • Be sure to check out the American Red Cross offers resources and tools for pet owners on their website

Learn more about the MANY Red Cross pet preparedness resources! 

Comment on this episode! For questions or if you need a reply- please email us at

Support the Show.

Support the show:

▷ Official Site:

▶ Facebook: / starlightoutreachandrescue

▶ YouTube: -

▶ TikTok: / starlightou...

Amy Castro (00:00.942)
It seems like a day doesn't go by where we don't hear about disasters happening around the world. From house fires to hurricanes, people and pets are often caught unprepared, leading to devastating consequences. In today's episode of Starlight Pet Talk, we delve into disaster preparedness for your pets. Joined by an expert from the Red Cross, we'll cover how to prepare, strategies for evacuating different types of pets, finding pet -friendly shelter, and essential post -disaster steps. This is a life -saving episode you can't afford to miss.

Stay tuned. You're listening to Starlight Pet Talk, a podcast for pet parents who want the best pet care advice from cat experts, dog trainers, veterinarians, and other top pet professionals who will help you live your very best life with your pets.

Amy Castro (00:51.598)
Welcome to Starlight Pet Talk. I'm your host, Amy Castro. And today we're talking about something that is super important to me and I'm sure it probably is to you, and that is disaster preparedness. Living on the Texas Gulf Coast, it feels like we're always on alert for something to happen. But I didn't realize until I talked to our guest today that there are a lot more things that we need to be prepared for than kind of meets the eye. My guest today is Roxana Petzold.

and she's a part of the American Red Cross's Mass Care Team, where she serves as the national manager for household pets. Along with an exceptional team of volunteers, staff, and external partners, she develops policies and programs to keep the whole family safe together, pets included, during a disaster, which I know we all appreciate as pet parents. Her work in animal welfare spans 20 years and includes advocacy, supporting local shelters with adoptions and veterinary clinics,

field response for animal welfare in disaster situations and developing pet preparedness workshops for FEMA. So thank you, Roxana, for being here with us today and sharing your knowledge. I know it's going to be super helpful for all of our listeners. It's my pleasure, Amy. Thank you so much for inviting me here today. This is one of my favorite topics of conversation. There's so much great information and I'm really thrilled to be able to share it.

Yeah, and I appreciate that because I think people think they're ready for things and they're really not, or they just kind of delude themselves into thinking, this could never happen to me. I'm safe over here. I'm safe over there. But can you describe some of the most common disasters that pet parents really need to start preparing themselves for, even if they don't live in a hurricane zone or an earthquake zone? Sure. Well, you know, I'll begin by just saying every day the Red Cross supports communities across the country in times of disaster.

whether it's a household fire or a hurricane. Our congressional mandate is to provide mass care and keep people safe. And we want to keep the whole family safe and together. And that includes pets because the Red Cross believes pets are important members of the family. And this conversation with you really couldn't come at a better time. It's Pet Preparedness Month.

Amy Castro (03:06.574)
but it's also the start of hurricane season and we are already anticipating heat waves and wildfire risks, not to mention recovering from record tornado activity across the Midwest. So I am really pleased to be here with you today. I think about pet preparedness and preparedness in general with three key things in mind. And the first is make a plan. The second is,

pack a go bag. And the third is to stay tuned to local news and emergency notification sources to keep you informed during an incident and an evacuation. And there are a few things to consider. I begin with thinking about how am I going to transport my pet? What are the evacuation routes? And where can I stay that's pet friendly? So when you think about how you want to evacuate with your pet, ask yourself, will you be driving in your own car, a friend's car?

Or will you need public transportation to get from your home to wherever that safe space is going to be? Learn what evacuation routes are planned by the jurisdiction that you live in. This is especially key if you live in areas that are prone to flooding and hurricanes, because they'll usually specify what hurricane rates are. The next thing to think about is the type of carrier you're going to have to contain your pet. Ask yourself if you can safely transport your pet in it.

and what may be for several hours to keep that animal in. So for example, if you have a turtle or a bird, you're probably gonna need different considerations than what you're gonna need for your dog Rusty, right? But if Rusty has some health needs, then a conversation with your veterinarian may point to the best way to transport him during an evacuation. So you're gonna need this when you transport your pet, but also when you get to the shelter or a hotel.

The other thing I think about is I look at my friends and family about where I can stay. Do I have friends or family nearby who would be able to accommodate me and my fur babies for a set period of time during the disaster? But I also want to check to see where local evacuation shelters are going to be in my community and then which one of those shelters is going to be pet friendly. A good way to find this out is to just ask your local emergency management office.

Amy Castro (05:30.318)
or animal control office about pet friendly emergency shelters. The last thing I think about in my plan is do I have a list of pet friendly hotels or motels, even campgrounds that are pet friendly that I know I could stay at if I was evacuating from the disaster.

Yeah, that's so important and it's not something that you can do at the last minute. As the storm is already making landfall right outside your door, so to speak. I mean, it's really something that we need to start thinking about.

before hurricane season starts or tornado season, whatever it might be, is to have those things in place so that you've got a plan A, a plan B. Personally, as somebody that has evacuated, that was a nightmare car ride going to my brother -in -law's house, a ride that normally took two and a half, three hours, took us 16 hours to get there in two cars. Luckily, we had carriers and such for the pets. And I think that's something that's so important that people need to think about because as a rescue person,

I see people want it. They'll show up to adopt a pet and they don't have a cat carrier. It's like, how can you take your cat to the vet? I just carry it. Well, you may get away with that. It's probably not the safest thing in the world, but now you're trying to evacuate three cats and you don't have a carrier at all, let alone just one. And I think maybe they don't want to invest the money or they think, I only need one carrier because I only take one cat to the vet at a time. But thinking about that evacuation process, you really need to have more.

Yeah, you know, that's so important to underscore how, you know, we talk about planning, we talk about planning and preparedness, you know, making sure that you are ready. What is your level of readiness? That's how we operate as we start to build capacity within our organization to make sure that we can address specific needs across the country. And it is that planning and preparedness. So if I have three cats and two dogs or I have a horse,

Amy Castro (07:27.566)
You know, what kind of pets do I have and what's going to be the best way to move them safely from A to B? You reminded me, you know, I see this a lot. People don't know that the Red Cross response to household fires every day in certain areas of the country. We respond to up to 10 a day and household fires are actually the biggest disaster that we see in the country every year. We, we see over 60 ,000.

home fires every year and over 40 ,000 animals are lost every year in home fires according to the American Veterinary Association. So thinking about these plans are great. Also thinking about, well, how do I get my kitty out of the house? You have less than two minutes to evacuate when your home is on fire. So thinking about where is my carrier? I've seen people running out of their house with fires.

with their cat stuffed down their shirt. And the first time I saw that I went, ouch. So yeah, having those carriers, the right size, the right kind for the right species, super important, knowing where they are, are they easy to get to? Where's that leash? Where's that harness for your dog? Do you need a muzzle handy for your dog? All of those things are gonna be super important. And that sort of leads me to the next point. And that is getting that go -bag together.

So we've all been told, especially if you live in areas like the Gulf Coast, high risk areas, pack a go bag for yourself and your family members. Well, you know what, having a go bag for your pet is a good idea as well. And again, this is something you're gonna tailor to the species of pet that you have. We recommend packing about two weeks of food and water for your pets.

You can also throw in some bowls. They have great collapsible bowls now that will tuck in easily. You can put this into a backpack, throw in the leash, throw in the collar. Make sure you've got those ID tags on the collars. You have a cat, they have disposable litter boxes. If your pets use tinned food that you need to open, you can grab a manual can opener. First aid is good. A favorite toy and treat, throw that in there. I like to include a blanket or a towel for them. And then of course,

Amy Castro (09:46.414)
medications that they may need, make sure that's in there. The other thing that's really important is those medical veterinary records. So you want those records of vaccines, rabies vaccines in particular are going to be really key when you're evacuating. So take those veterinary records. Also, take a picture of yourself with your pet, print that out, and put all those important documents into a watertight baggie.

and then put that in the kit. This is gonna be really great. Should you ever become separated for your pet, you'll be able to have some important documentation to ID your pet. If the search and rescue team during a disaster goes and finds your pet, if it happened to get loose and they take it back to the emergency animal shelter or the animal control office, they'll be much more easy to identify you and reunify you with your pet, which I think is another really important thing to think about, reunification.

should you become separated with your fur babies. Yes. Another thing I'd like to add to that, and I think you mentioned at least one of these things in our previous conversation is, in addition to having those, if you can get those hard copies of the records, great, and the waterproof bag, awesome. Another thing you can do is email those records to yourself, and that's assuming that you're evacuating to someplace that you'll have power that you can get on the internet.

But the other thing, in one of our previous episodes, when we were talking with somebody that had traveled in an RV with her pets for several years, she had her pets' records on a jump drive and just had that with her so that if she had to go in an emergency situation...

to a veterinarian, she could just hand them that jump drive and they could plug it in their computer and have access to the records. So there's multiple ways. It's probably a good idea to cover your bases and have those records in multiple formats, especially like you said, that rabies certificate is huge because you could be limited as to where you might be able to go with that pet if you can't provide proof of rabies, at least in the U .S. Yes, that's so true. And yeah, thank you for mentioning. One of the tips that we like to recommend is not just your

Amy Castro (11:54.094)
pet records, but all those important documents that you have. So passport, insurance, birth certificates, leases, all those important documents that we always say, yeah, I know I need this. yeah, I'm going to put this in a safe place. But what we recommend is get them all out, take pictures of all of them, and then email them to yourself because if you do lose them in a disaster or because you have to evacuate so quickly.

you will be able to download them from the cloud. So, and when you're working with organizations like the Red Cross, we're going to need a lot of that information to help get you moving forward on recovery, working with organizations like FEMA and other aid organizations, having that information handy is also going to help get the replacement documents for you as well. So putting it in the cloud is a really great place to keep it because you know you'll be able to get it again. Right. Good idea.

You had mentioned about evacuating with other types of pets. So, you know, obviously we've got carriers for our smaller cats, you know, maybe smaller dogs having those leashes and collars and such. What other advice or things have you seen related to evacuating with other critters? Like, I know when I evacuated, thank God I threw our camping gear in the car at the very last second, because we were going to my brother -in -law's house, but so was every other relative in the family, and there really wasn't a lot of room for us and our pets. So we ended up...

popping out that tent and everybody kind of stayed in there. But it's a little bit dicey when you've got, I think we had a fish, a guinea pig, and then the dogs and cats. So it's a little trickier with those little small critters. Yeah, it is. And some animals are more fragile, more delicate than others when it comes to moving them. What I suggest is having a conversation with your veterinarian. What is the best way to prepare for a disaster?

and the best recommendations for evacuating with my pet. So, you know, if I have a bird, you know, and if I have a large bird, like a macaw or a parrot, it's going to be much trickier than transporting with my dog or even my cat. Hamster, pocket pets, maybe much easier. I can put them in a small carrier. I can put them on my lap. And if I'm taking public transportation, it's going to be a pretty easy way to transport them. But, you know, if I have a pet snake,

Amy Castro (14:16.974)
or other reptile or amphibian might be challenging, especially animals that are extremely sensitive to temperatures. So ask the vet, have a conversation with your veterinarian and get their medical expertise on what's the best way to prepare. Another thing to think about is what other kind of pet specific sheltering options are there in your community?

And that's where having a conversation or reaching out to your emergency management authority, the animal control officers, and even going online to the state department of agriculture or the state emergency management to see if they have plans to stand up an emergency animal shelter in your community. And this may take the shape of a shelter that is specifically for animals that will be found during the disaster.

or that need special support during a disaster, but they may also have information on where to shelter large animals. So more and more shelters across the country are becoming pet friendly during emergencies, and that's really important. That's fantastic. But very, very few could support large animals. So that's where understanding what the state's game plan is for sheltering large animals like your horses is gonna be so key.

And you know, some of us have pets that are goats. We don't think of them as farm animals. We don't think of them as commercial livestock. They really have become part of our families in many communities. So if you have an animal that is not the typical household pet, that's another good bit of information to determine, you know, is there someplace, you know, is there going to be a large animal emergency shelter that I could take my, you know, my, my pet goats, my horses to?

during a disaster. Yeah. And I think obviously people are at different places in their lives and have different budgets and such. But one of the things that we did do when we did evacuate, you know, it was just way too hot for the animals to be outside, the cats specifically. I mean, when a cat starts panting, that's never a good thing. And so we could have brought her inside and kind of pushed the issue and it, you know, we would have made it work, but...

Amy Castro (16:33.038)
I just started calling local boarding facilities and veterinarians and I finally found a veterinarian that had space because we had evacuated pretty darn far from where the evacuation zone was. So that's another thing, if you can afford to pay for boarding for your pets to look into that in advance, because you got me thinking, in reality, if I decided that yes, I probably need to evacuate with these five equines, what I should be doing way beforehand is number one,

figuring out the transport, you know, is there somebody that will come and get these animals for me? Number two, where am I gonna take them? You know, have I arranged for someplace, you know, assuming that I'm not gonna go the route of an emergency shelter type of situation and kind of just have that plan in place in advance instead of trying to figure it out at the last minute when everybody else is kind of doing the same thing. There's really a lot of pieces and I know it can seem overwhelming when we start, you know,

thinking about these activities, but there's lots of great resources online that really take the form of a checklist and help you go through some recommended steps to help you get prepared. And the reality is, when disaster hits, nobody feels really prepared, right? There's just so much, but you can go online and there are even some checklists that will help this be a much less insurmountable task, a much easier thing to do.

with you and your family. And you can even make a family project of it. So, you know, if you have children, your partner, you can all sort of divide and conquer and think about what's the best way to make sure that, you know, your kitty, your puppy, your horses are gonna be safe. Right. You know, you had mentioned the fact that, you know, it seems like over the last whatever the timeframe is that this whole process has become more pet friendly. One of the things that I experienced and it was during

I think it was Ike. You know, when we had a tremendous amount of flooding right here in our local community, there was a lot of confusion on the part of first responders as to, like, one boat might pull up to a house and take somebody out of the second story window and let them bring their pets, and then next door, a different boat is pulling up and taking people out of the window and saying, you can't take pets. Are you seeing that it seems like the communication has gotten better around the pets, no pets? Same thing with the shelters. I mean, we got called.

Amy Castro (18:57.55)
you know, as I'm not even a veterinarian, I'm not even anything medical, but because they couldn't get a veterinarian to this location or get other people that might be more qualified but willing to go out, my daughter and I took our rescue medical supplies and got on a rubber raft and, you know, basically got taken to a school where people had been evacuated with pets because there were some pets having some medical issues and they had, you know, infant kitten that they didn't have formula for because they found it at the last minute. So there's like,

kind of chaos a little bit about the whole animal thing, but it sounds like things maybe have gotten better about that. Well, that's amazing work. I'm so appreciative that you did that. You and your daughter did that because it's so important. So, you know, when I think about how my role has evolved and how the Red Cross has evolved, you know, we talk about disaster response since Katrina and we're coming up on the 20th anniversary of Katrina. Next summer will mark the 20th year anniversary.

And in that 20 year period, you know, there's two things that the Red Cross has seen. We have seen a significant increase in incidents every year. We go out to more hurricanes, more wildfires, more tornadoes. I was at a conference a couple of weeks ago and it was noted that it was only the beginning of, it was the beginning of May and the country had already surpassed the number of disasters that it had in any year since. And we hadn't even hit hurricane season yet.

So that readiness piece again is so critical at this point. The other thing that we've noticed is more pets are coming to shelters and that is because as you know, more than half American households are pet families. They have pets. And moreover, pets are really seen by and large as part of the family. So the good things that came out of Katrina was the Pets Act.

you know, which really mandates that states really think about a plan to support communities who have pets during disaster. Organizations formed NARS, which is the National Animal Rescue Coalition and NASEP, which is a national organization of emergency managers and agricultural departments. And these organizations really are addressing that communication.

Amy Castro (21:20.814)
piece, as well as establishing other best practices for both government agencies and not -for -profit organizations that respond in disaster to really work together. And then as well as the Red Cross, we are involved with both of those large national organizations, and we can really work to help communicate best practices to the community. So like the conversation you and I are having right now.

I'm getting this information out. What do I do as a cat mom, as a dog parent? Really reaching out and understanding, taking advantage of those resources that are available in your jurisdiction. So, you know, going online or going to the library and asking about emergency preparedness plans that are in place from your town or your county or your state, that's going to give you a lot of awareness and also help you formulate your plans.

so that you can again safely evacuate and make sure the whole family is with you. Right. It's good to know that that change has been in process. I think again with people, if you have the ability to have a plan in place as to at least that's plan A, where you're basically managing your own situation versus relying on, yes, the county's gonna set up this equine shelter for blah, blah, blah, and maybe have that as plan B because...

my fear would be if I just kind of sit back and say, well, there's going to be this resource. What if I am the 101st person of the 100 capacity resource kind of thing, or am I just being paranoid or? You know, I'm going to build on that a little bit. So, you know, what our federal emergency management system really supports is a whole community approach to disaster response.

And part of that is understanding what your responsibility is and really understanding what resources are out there. So as we're talking about the plan, yeah, that's part of the planning. You know, I think about when I'm thinking about when I take off my Red Cross hat and I put on my, you know, I'm at home hat, I think about, well, what do I need to do to keep my whole family safe, to keep my pet safe in a disaster? What steps do I need to take?

Amy Castro (23:42.798)
Building awareness is that. So understanding where the emergency shelters are for people, which ones are pet friendly. How do I get there? I live in a big city. Most of us in a big city don't have cars. So we're going to be very dependent on public transportation. Well, what is that going to entail? How do I wrangle my dogs and cats and turtle on a, on a subway, you know, thinking about all of those things, but also being aware, you know, if you come to a Red Cross shelter,

If we have capacity for 100 and the storm is bearing down and you're 101, we're going to find a place for you. But it is thinking about like, well, you know, my cousin two towns over, low risk neighborhood, he said, you know what, come, we'll find a place for you. So these are all my options. I'm a big fan of having multiple options and always having a plan B in my back pocket. So I agree. I think the more you know,

you know, the more options you have and the better you will be able to address the challenging situation in front of you. Right. And one thing I'd like to add to that before we move on to is that, you know, you had mentioned earlier on about watching the weather, watching the warnings that are coming through. It is shocking to me. And I don't like listening to what people tell me what to do either. I'm bad like that too. But, you know, if I'm living in a beach house on the Gulf of Mexico and I've got a cat five hurricane,

heading right at me, just get out. Like don't wait till the last minute and make somebody come rescue you and your pets. Get out and get out early. You know, it's like, it'll be so much easier for you to make your way to your cousin's house and actually get there if you do it two days before. Yes, it's inconvenient or yes, it might require, you know, spending more money because you're gonna have to stay in a hotel one day before your cousin gets back in from out of town or whatever it is. But, you know, don't be, you know, Pennywise and pound foolish.

whether it's financially or just in logistics when it comes to this stuff, you know, get out early, take action early, make a decision early and go. Yeah, you know, Amy, I would just add, you know, one of the challenges pre -Katrina and one of the lessons we learned from Katrina is that if people didn't have a place to evacuate to, if they didn't know where to go, if they couldn't bring their pets,

Amy Castro (26:10.03)
they were very unlikely to leave. Those were the folks that decided, well, I'm going to hunker down because I'm not leaving my dog behind. Well, so this is what's so wonderful about the Pets Act and that Red Cross has moved to a co -located model. There are resources. There are places for people to go. So taking that time to understand where those pet friendly evacuation shelters are, those emergency shelters are, and then how to evacuate with your pet.

really helps you move out so that you don't stay behind. Right. So once we've evacuated and it's all clear, obviously we've seen in recent news and past news that people might come back and find that everything is perfectly all right at their house and they have power and their house is intact or whatever it might be. And at the opposite end of the extreme, it might be utter demolition they come back to.

What are some things for people to do once it's safe to return home? What should they be prepared for when it comes to their pets? Yeah, that's such a great question, Amy. It's so important to think about those next steps. So, you know, the great news is that you've been given the green light to go home after disaster. But the thing to keep in mind is, you know, depending on the impact, your home, your neighborhood, even your town may have changed significantly because of

the storm, whether it's a hurricane or tornado flooding. So work with your community agencies to first of all, ensure your home is safe to return to. They're going to have that damage assessment information for you. And if you've gotten the green light to go back, but you've experienced substantial damage, you're still going to want to make sure the grounds are safe for yourself, your whole family and your pets. So some things to keep in mind.

Look for loose wires, nails, things are going to be broken. So there may be glass shards and other sharp objects that have been strewn about both on the yard, your front yard, backyard, and inside the house as well. Another thing to think about is to check for chemical spills. Those bottles and jugs of bleach and other caustic cleaners you may keep in the garage, in the shed, basement, under the sink.

Amy Castro (28:33.966)
Well, they may have been broken or come loose as well and spilled. So you want to be mindful of those things as well. The other thing is to keep in mind that, you know, with all of this disruption in your neighborhood and in your home, these smells have likely changed as well. So these things that your pets typically use to orient themselves may radically have changed, causing your pets to become actually a little disoriented because of the change in the smells.

movement of furniture, movement of trees, fences, things that were there before that may not be there after. So you want to just go very slowly. When you get back with your kids, with your pets, with your family, any vulnerable members in your family unit, just take the time to really make sure that everything is safe when you get home. Okay. That's excellent advice.

Roxana, can you tell us a little bit more about what specifically the Red Cross might have to offer pet owners when it comes to emergencies and emergency preparedness? absolutely. I mean, we have lots of great resources. You can find resources to prepare for many different types of incidents on our website at redcross .org. You can learn about planning for specific types of disasters like a hurricane or wildfire.

but also how to support your pets during heat waves or very cold climates. Also, we're in vacation season now for many of us, and we have some great tips on safe travel since more and more of us are taking our pets with us when we go on vacation. We also have some great information on how to prevent household fires if you're a pet parent, what you should know if you need to evacuate, as I mentioned earlier, if you're a pet parent.

And the Red Cross, we will, a lot of people don't know this, we will actually come and install smoke detectors and go through your house with you to give you safety tips all for free. wow. Yeah, we will come in and do it. You can call us at 800 -RED -CROSS. You can go on and find your local chapter online. Or again, you can sign up at redcross .org. Another great tool that we have is we have a free pet first aid app.

Amy Castro (30:55.248)
I love this app. This app is genius. Download it on whatever platform you use. And in there, it gives you not only some wonderful first aid tips for cats and dogs, but it also is a great tool to use in your planning and preparedness because you can put in veterinary resources. You can find pet friendly hotels. There's so much great information in there to use. So Red Cross Pet First Aid app. We also have pet first aid classes online that you can register for.

And then of course, in addition to the Red Cross, there are lots of great resources online for to prepare for disaster. Ready .gov is a great one. Some of the larger animal welfare organizations like American Humane, ASPCA, Humane Society of the US, they all have terrific tips on there as well. And your local library, Office of Emergency Management and animal shelters, they will also be great resources to find some more information too.

Yeah, definitely. And number one, I didn't realize the Red Cross had all those fantastic resources. And another one that I thought about too, because when I was looking for people to come on the show to talk about this issue, I came across that Texas A has a whole emergency response through their veterinary school. And so that might be another resource for people who live.

near a university that might have a veterinary program to see what resources or information they have there as well. But it sounds like there's a ton of stuff out there. You just need to go looking for it and sooner than later. I know we've talked about strategy. We talked about planning and preparing, but anything else that you can think about related to just kind of this long -term, because it's not something where...

you do it and it's done, right? I mean, it's an ongoing thing. And depending upon where you live, there might be multiple things that you need to be aware of. I even thought about when you were talking about the go bags, it's like, okay, if I have them all, where am I putting them all? I started thinking, maybe I should keep them in the garage near the car so you can just toss them in the car and go versus the cat bags and so -and -so closet and the dog bags out in the shed and the, you know, whatever it might be, like consolidate that stuff because time may be of the essence, depending upon.

Amy Castro (33:05.232)
the disaster you're facing. Yeah, that's such a good point. We also suggest that you put those go bags and those things that you'll need for your pet, like the carrier for the cat, the leash for the dog. Because again, you know, during big fires, I've seen people, you know, running out of their house, you've got your three year old in one hand, and you've got your Rottweiler here. And then you're standing on the street and you're just trying to hold these two critters that are both struggling in all the chaos.

Yeah. So when you think about, you know, where are you putting these things, you know, making sure that, okay, this is where my leash is going to be. This is where the gold bag is going to be. This is where the carrier is. This is where the cat hides. All of these things really start to help you with your planning. But in addition to that, you know, one of the first things that I always suggest is microchipping. You know, have you had your pet microchipped? That's such an amazing little device that really will help.

Again, with reunification, if your animal and you become separated, I have heard so many wonderful stories about animals that went missing and because they were microchipped, they were able to find their families again. That's the first thing that any shelter, any animal shelter is gonna do when a stray animal comes in. They're gonna see if it's microchipped. Very often communities offer low cost microchipping events.

So check online again, check with your local animal shelters, check with your local animal control if they have anything there. And of course your veterinarian will do it for you too. Yeah, local rescues, you know, local rescues too. We microchip all of our pets and you know, if somebody came to me and said, hey, you know, I can't afford a microchip, but I really want to have my pet microchipped. I mean, we'll help you spay and neuter your pet too. So we'll certainly give you a microchip on top of that. So reach out to those resources as well, if you can't find something elsewhere.

But yeah, that is, we did a whole episode on the life -saving importance of microchipping your pet, and it is huge. And it's a one -time thing as far as the chip. The other thing that I would say is, as somebody who has scanned a lot of chips and found out that you've moved 15 times since you put that chip in and now I can't find you, or the chip was never registered, make sure you keep that chip data up to date and make sure it's registered in the beginning, even if the organization...

Amy Castro (35:30.544)
that adopts the animal to you, for example, says they register it, check it, confirm it, because mistakes happen. Yeah, that's a really good point. And it's tough. I myself was guilty of moving and then forgetting to update the information. But I have my cats microchipped. A lot of people have asked me, well, I have a house cat. It never goes out. Why bother? And I said, well, what if there's a fire? If there's a fire in your home,

Cats are the ones that are gonna be the hardest ones to capture, and they're usually the ones that bolt first. So finding your kitty after a fire, that microchip is gonna be a huge help. So in addition to microchipping, one of the things that I encourage people to do is to develop a buddy system. Really think about how you and your friends can support each other. So if you, a lot of folks in the cities, we have dog parks and dog runs.

And it's a great way to start to build that resource. So, you know, something not only in disaster, but in a small emergency where maybe you need to travel suddenly, you know, is there someone that can help care for your pet while you're away? Yeah. And what is that real life system that you can put in place if you do need to evacuate? Can you all get together and carpool it? You know, what can you do to support each other? So think about friends and family that you can build that network with to support each other with your.

And the last thing you know is really, I think we touched on that and that's really about getting all those documents together. You know, block out an hour of time, put them all out on the bed or the sofa, and then just take pictures of them and email them to yourself. You will feel so much better, you know, knowing that you have these important papers handy for you if you ever should need them. Yes, that's a great idea. And then keeping those updated, that would be another piece of it too. But even if it was...

a year out of date, it's better than not having any records along the way. You had mentioned the pet first aid class, which got me thinking about training. We talk a lot on this show about training your pets, some of the basic training, and mostly because it becomes an issue with the untrained dog that's out of control and now I wanna get rid of it because it's bothering my kids or knocking down grandma or whatever the case may be. But in...

Amy Castro (37:53.616)
a disaster or an emergency situation, you know, a well -trained dog can make your life, you know, you're probably not going to train your cat, but a well -trained dog is going to make your life a lot easier than one that's out of control. So just, you know, basic sit, basic stay, you know, come, just the basic, basic stuff that you can completely do on your own could be quite invaluable. Cause I know for a fact, I could run out my front door and I know my dogs are going to stay with me.

or they're certainly not gonna wander far and they're gonna come when I call them. I may not have to worry about that leash if I've got my hands full because I know Gunny is just gonna stay with me. What I would keep in mind is, much in the same way that when we as human beings experience disaster, we get anxious, we panic, we get sad, a lot of emotions can run through our heads.

as we're processing what's happening in front of us. Animals also will experience stress, you know, during a disaster situation. And the sweetest, sweetest animal, you know, their behavior may be impacted by this. So keep that in mind. It's why we really encourage pet owners to make sure that they have a proper carrier, because if they get stressed out, putting them in that carrier, putting them in that crate,

Throwing a blanket over it is really going to be very, very helpful. It's going to calm them down. It's going to calm down the people around them as well. You know, thinking about that whole environment, I think it's going to help you get through it more successfully. You know, again, talk to some trainers, talk to your rescue organizations. They may have some additional tips on behavior. You know, and also keeping in mind what kind of calming techniques have you used on pets.

in other stressful situations that might be helpful as well. Your veterinarian may have some really good tips on dealing with that too. Yeah, well, especially people who use their crates. Like I was thinking about the whole idea of finding the cats. I don't know about that even around here, but certainly my dogs, like if I say houses right now, if I went out in the living room and said houses, everybody knows where their crate is. And so not that I would lift all of them because some of them are pretty big dogs, but it's like I know they're gonna get in it.

Amy Castro (40:15.376)
And so that just increases the odds that even in a stressful situation that, you know, I'll at least have some cooperation. And so I think getting, you know, getting pets used to those things, those carriers, those items, when it's not a stressful situation can at least help things along the way, I would think. Yeah, no, that's a really good tip. You know, we've been in situations where we've had dogs in shelters who've never been on a leash before and are largely outdoor dogs.

So, you know, it's going to be a little challenging for the owner, stressful for the dog, and confusing, I will say, for first responders and disaster responders who are trying to accommodate, you know, the family with that pet. So whatever you can do again to get them used to things. When we're kids in school, we have fire drills all the time.

And we think about it when we're kids, but then when we become adults, we kind of forget about the fire drill, unless you work for a big company that, you know, every year says, okay, we're doing the fire drill. So we really encourage families to do fire drills in your home. And when you do that, have the pets there with you, you know, make sure they're part of that whole fire drill plan, you know, where again, finding the dog, finding the cat, making sure the dog is right there when everybody goes, all right, go evacuate.

You know, go through those motions with, you're like putting the leash on the dog or putting the cat in the crate and then getting out of the house together to that predetermined location where the family's gonna meet up so everyone knows everyone is out and everyone is safe. It's just another part of how you prepare for the disaster. You know, all of those little pieces, putting them together. Any final tips or thoughts that you wanna share with us before we wrap this up? Because this has been a lot of fantastic information.

Boy, I feel like I've shared a lot and I can hear people's brains going, whoa. So I just want to invite everybody to check out our website, redcross .org and browse through all the great resources and tools there. Talk to your friends and families about how to support each other during disaster and be prepared and be safe. Definitely, definitely.

Amy Castro (42:28.688)
Well, thank you so much, Roxana, for being here today and sharing your experience and your tips. I think it's been, like you said, it's a lot of information, but that's the beauty of a podcast, right? Because it's not live. You can go, you can pause it. You can go back, you can listen. I've had people say, I gotta listen to that again and take notes. Well, this is one, folks, for you who are listening now.

If you didn't take notes the first time around, this is your opportunity. You can go back and listen to it again and take some notes because it could mean the difference between life and death for you or your pets or both. So again, thank you so much for being here. We really appreciate it. It was my pleasure, Amy. Thank you so much for this opportunity. Great. All right. And everybody, thank you for listening to another episode of Starlight Pet Talk. And as we like to say every week,

If you don't do anything else this week, make sure you give your pets a big hug from us. Thanks for listening to Starlight Pet Talk. Be sure to visit our website at www .starlightpettalk .com for more resources and be sure to follow this podcast on your favorite podcast app so you'll never miss a show. If you enjoyed and found value in today's episode, we'd appreciate a rating on Apple. Or if you'd simply tell a friend about the show, that would be great too. Don't forget to tune in next week and every week.

for a brand new episode of Starlight Pet Talk. And if you don't do anything else this week, give your pets a big hug.