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How to Prepare for Disaster with Your Dog #HillsPet

This dog waits for his owner and hopes he will be reunited.

If you are into helping dogs in need, this article is geared at you. One of the focus points of the Fidose of Reality dog blog is sharing information that is reality-based, helps animals in need, and gives pet parents an actionable way to do something for dogs.  Do you know how to  prepare for disaster with your dog?

Disaster Relief Network

Sadly, disaster struck the folks in Colorado in September when heavy rains and flooding destroyed communities, displaced many pets and their families, and uprooted entire roadways. I was able to visit Colorado right after all of this devastation happened, and the sad, ominous feeling hung heavy in the air. While I did not see first hand what happened in person, I did live it as many of us did: through images, videos, and newscasts. To see animals being lifted out of flood waters and learn of others who were lost leaves us at a loss for words.

If You’ve Been In a Disaster

You know the turbulence and upset that comes with a disaster. Sadly, I had to be evacuated twice in the past ten years, both at the mercy of ravaging flood waters. Thankfully, both times we were spared. Knowing what to do in an emergency situation opens another discussion, and Fidose has that info ready for you as well. In the meantime, did you ever wonder what happens to dogs and cats…and all pets…when disaster strikes? Leaving a pet home alone is never the way to go: You have no idea where they will end up, honestly.


When Emergency Strikes

There is now a first-of-its-kind formalized network spanning the United States in which shelters coordinate emergency pet food deliveries where they are most needed. Of the nearly 100 participating shelters nationwide, pets are helped firsthand. The Disaster Relief Network helps pets during emergencies.

“I saw firsthand the tremendous work that Hill’s does when they supported my shelter during the wildfires in Colorado last year,” said Jan McHugh-Smith, President and CEO of the Humane Society of Pikes Peak Region in Colorado Springs. “It was remarkable how fast they were able to respond and how committed they were to making sure we had enough food for our shelters, including the temporary shelters that we set up accommodate the influx of displaced animals.”

How You Can Get Involved

The Hill’s Food, Shelter, & Love program launched earlier this year and solicits advice from the shelter community. Hill’s wants to be sure they invest their food donations in the best way possible to have the most positive impact for pets. I can tell you first hand that when disaster strikes, having resources available is crucial. As a result, Hill’s Science Diet® pet food is now available to any eligible US shelter at a significant discount, and the program is open 365 days a year.  You can learn more and how to get involved at this link: Hill’s Shelter Program


In case of emergency, learn more from Hill’s and their emergency resources here.

What Really Happens at Makeshift Shelters During Disaster

Fidose friend, June Myers of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, volunteered earlier this year when devastation landed in her town. Myers is a self-admitted dog lover, much like yours truly. She is a fellow Cocker Spaniel lover and dog mom who has volunteered her time at a fairgrounds. She wasn’t making cotton candy or handing out candy apples — quite the contrary, in fact. She volunteered at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds Animal Shelter, which is a makeshift shelter for all the displaced, homeless, abandoned, lost, and injured pets affected by nature’s fury in Oklahoma.

June Myers with her Cocker Spaniel, Buster

Myers checked in at 8 a.m. The pets were fed, watered, and walked by volunteers. While the dogs were outside, indoor volunteers sanitized their kennels with a germicide. Pets were talked to and given plenty of attention. Each volunteer had  a specific task they do, and Myers worked on the intakes.

This is what the weather did in Oklahoma. Tragedy strikes anywhere.

She was on vacation the day the tornado hit, so she missed the first week. Volunteers reported injured animals came in scared to death, some injured, and others just baffled and confused. All injured pets received immediate medical care, with some transferred to Oklahoma State University Vet School for further attention.

As a volunteer, Myers shared that the pets adjusted relatively well. The veterinarians gave rabies and Bordatella shots to the incoming dogs and cats as well as microchipping them. Cats also got their feline rhinotracheitis shots.

From noon to 2:30 p.m., the shelter went into “quiet time” mode, where all dogs settled in for naps and the volunteers ate lunch.

Pictures and names on a wall at the Oklahoma shelter: Waiting and hoping.

“This shelter differed from others because it was on a scale 10 times the size,” Myers shared. “Someone is always sweeping or mopping and in the evening, it starts all over again: feeding, watering, walking, cleaning.”

Aside from the chores and bonding time with the animals, Myers and many of the volunteers spent their days in a state of hope: Hope that a pet will be reclaimed by his or her family. Some folks had no place to live, others assume their pets died, and some people might have perished in the tornado.

Why Volunteer in Times of Tragedy

“First of all, I love animals,” Myers shared. “Secondly I am a volunteer at the Moore Animal Shelter, and our group is Moore Pawsabilities.

Yes, she was emotionally drained, , but Myers and the other volunteers know they are needed. “I am only doing a very small part; there are so many, many more great people and organizations that that have pitched in and are helping with this effort,” she says.

She reflects on Baxter and the way the little dog jumped up and down in his kennel when his eyes locked on his very grateful owner at the makeshift shelter. Tornadoes cannot eliminate the bond between dog and family.

This dog, Baxter, is happily reunited with his dad. Some were not so fortunate.

Now What

So now you can get involved by having an action plan in the event nature’s fury comes to your town. If you think it can’t happen to you, ask the folks in New York who were devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Remember seeing the flood waters coming into the streets of New York and their buildings? The one-year anniversary passed this week, and yet those affected still remember.

Here’s a video to inspire and give you the warm fuzzies as did here in the Fidose offices:

I don’t know about you, but I’m off to hug my dog a little bit closer right now. Here’s the reality and what you can do to prepare for disaster with your dog.

Do you have an emergency plan in place and does it include your dog?

(note: “This post is sponsored by Hill’s. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Hill’s Science Diet but Fidose of Reality only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers and the above is real information that has really occurred. Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. is not responsible for the content of this article.”)


  1. Dolly the Doxie says

    I learned about Hill’s disaster relief program at BlogPaws2013 and wrote about it right after Moore’s tornado. I have to admit its the one thing that impresses me more about Hill’s than anything else. I know of no other pet food company that actually implements a plan to help when disaster strikes. Good job. Love Dolly

  2. Mark says

    Being from the UK, we very rarely have disasters and being untouched I’ve not given much…and certainly not enough…thought to what happens to pets during disasters. This is certainly a thought provoking post! Sooo many pets must end up abandoned or lost, not just dogs but many other animals too. Saddening 🙁 Well done to Hills for trying to do something about this!

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