In the wake of last weekend’s hurricane, many residents realized the need to make disaster plans for their pets as well as themselves.
“It is very important to have a disaster preparedness plan for your pet or pets,” said Federal Coordinating Officer John Long of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“When it comes to our animals in time of disaster, we are not prepared for the decisions we may face. Being ready increases the likelihood of survival for all involved. It’s best to be prepared,” Long added.
Statistics show that 62 percent of American households have pets, and the sheer number of these animals can complicate evacuation efforts. FEMA estimates that a fifth of disaster victims who refuse evacuation orders do so because of an unwillingness to leave without their pets.
Furthermore, pets abandoned in disasters can become a hazard for emergency responders, and the animals themselves are at risk of becoming lost, sick, injured or killed.
FEMA has teamed with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the American Kennel Club, the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Humane Society of the United States to develop these pet-preparedness guidelines.
Have a supply kit ready, including:
- Food and water for three days in a sealed container;
- First aid items, medicines and medical records for your pet;
- Collar (with ID tags firmly secured), harness or leash;
- Registration, papers and vaccination records in a waterproof container;
- Crate or pet carrier;
- Pet litter, litter box and trash bags;
- Photos of you and your pet;
- Familiar items such as toys, treats and bedding.
Plan ahead for your pet:
- Plan for evacuation, if necessary. Secure appropriate lodging — friends or family outside the area or a pet-friendly hotel/motel. Consider pet boarding facilities or kennels. Identify any shelters in your area that will receive pets.
- Take pets with you when you evacuate. Animals left behind in a disaster can be injured, lost or killed.
- Plan with neighbors, friends or relatives to evacuate your pet if you are unable to do so.
- Talk to your vet: Consider microchipping your pet. These permanent implants may be invaluable if you and your pets are separated.
- Stay informed about the types of emergencies likely to affect your region and be ready to follow instructions from authorities on the scene.
After the storm:
- Don’t allow your pets to roam free. Familiar landmarks and smells might be gone and your pet might get lost.
- Try to get pets back into normal routines as soon as possible, and be ready for behavioral problems that may result from stress. If behavioral or health problems persist, talk to your vet.
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