Emergency Preparedness for Pet Businesses

Emergency Preparedness for Pet Businesses


4 minute read

Pet services businesses face unique challenges. They also have unique threats that many other businesses do not - working with sometimes unpredictable live animals, tools and chemicals that can be dangerous if mishandled, fast paced daily operations schedules, etc. In this article, we will look at what it takes for a pet business to lower their risk and be more prepared for all kinds of emergencies. This is Emergency Preparedness for Pet Businesses. 

  • Fire/smoke/CO
  • Flood
  • Earthquake
  • Hurricane
  • Tsunami
  • Tornado
  • Civil unrest
  • Wind storm
  • Blizzard
  • Theft
  • Technology failure
  • Injured/ill pet
  • Lost/escaped/abandoned pet
  • Injured employee/client
  • Disease outbreak
  • Utilities failure

How many of these is your business at risk for? The first step in emergency preparedness is understanding what possible threats you face and assuming that all of them "could" happen. While most pet businesses may experience a few of these over their lifetime, we should still act as if all of them are heading our way! 

The next step is to outline your emergency plans. We suggest compiling an "emergency binder" that will have all of the needed information in one place so it is easy to access. This binder will have quite a few documents in it, but at minimum should include your Emergency Action Plan, MSDS, and relevant forms, policies, procedures and contact information. You need to keep your emergency binder updated at least annually and have a robust staff training plan in place. 

Writing an Emergency Action Plan can be a lot of work. This plan, which is required by OSHA in many states, must outline 1) how you communicate hazardous conditions and emergencies to your staff, clients, etc. & how these are communicated to 911 and/or first responders, 2) evacuation procedures, 3) shut down or critical operations assignments, 4) accounting for individuals during an emergency, 5) rescue and medical assignments, 6) relevant contacts. This plan must be customized to your business, copying & pasting from someone else or an online source can be dangerous! This plan should also outline shelter-in-place procedures, details on if/when to evacuate animals, staff assignments, etc. We suggest contacting your local OSHA office to understand your states requirements for this plan as each state is different. 

Next up is staff training. Your staff need to know what to do during an emergency! Their life can be at extreme risk without understanding your EAP and emergency plans! Additionally, the lives of the pets you serve can be at high risk without this training! We suggest that each month, pet businesses pick a safety topic to review during staff meeting or other training time. This will help the information stay fresh in their minds.

Every staff member should be trained in pet first aid & CPR as well. Some pet businesses think that just training their managers is acceptable, but your front line employees are far more important! They are with the pets throughout the day and can recognize when there is a medical issue beginning early, rather than missing the signs until they are too severe to ignore! During emergencies like bloat, choking and poisoning, the faster the condition is recognized and treated, the better the outcome odds are. Train all of your staff bi-annually on pet first aid & CPR! Ready Pet Education offers pet first aid & CPR training programs specifically for working pet professionals. This certification offers real life scenarios on over 30 pet health topics that pet pros may see at work. We also offer in-person, hands-on training for facilities looking for more in-depth training. 

Human first aid, CPR & AED training is also a wise decision to be able to assist a staff member, client or passerby in need. There are program such as stop-the-bleed, drug overdose, and active shooter that can benefit your staff. Search Red Cross's website for more information on these programs. 

Lastly, create relationships with your community. Talk to your physical neighbors to discuss what help you may need in an emergency (or what help you could provide to them). Coordinate with other pet businesses in your city/county. If you (or they) needed to evacuate 50 dogs, could they provide temporary, emergency kennel space? Invite your local fire department to come do a walk through of your facility. Meet with your OSHA and emergency manager representatives. Emergency preparedness is layered throughout the community and communication between stakeholders is essential for the best outcome. 

For pet businesses that need assistance with preparedness, please send us an email at [email protected] for a free evaluation! 

For more information from OSHA on EAP, please visit this website: https://www.osha.gov/etools/evacuation-plans-procedures/eap/minimum-requirements

This article was written without the assistance of AI.

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