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Preparing Your Pets for Disasters

 

Be Prepared with a Disaster Plan
The best way to protect your family from the effects of a distater is to have a disaster plan. If you are a pet owner, that plan should include your pets. Being prepared can save their lives.

Different disasters require different responses. But whether the disaster is a flood, fire, tornado or a hazardous spill, you might have to evacuate your home.

In the event of a disaster, if you must evacuate, the important thing you can do to protect your pets is to evacuate them, too. Leaving pets behind, even if you try to create a safe place for them, is likely to result in their being injured, lost, or worse. So prepare now for the day when you and your pets might have to leave your home.

Identification for Your Pet

1. Have a Safe Place to Take Your Pets
Red Cross disaster shelters cannot accept pets because of states' health and safety regulations and other considerations. Service animals that assist people with disabilities are the only animals allowed in Red Cross shelters. It may be difficult, if not impossible, to find shelter for your animals in the midst of a disaster, so plan ahead. Do not wait until disaster strikes to do your research.

2. Assemble a Portable Pet Disaster Kit
Whether you are away from home for a day or a week, you'll need essential supplies. Keep items in an accessible place and store them in sturdy containers that can be carried easily (duffel bags, covered trash containers, etc.). Your pet disaster supplies kit should iclude: 3. Know What to do as a Disaster Approaches
Often, storm watches are issued hours, even days, in advance. At first hint of disaster, begin to act - You may not be home when the evacuation order comes. Find out if a trusted neighbor would be willing to take your pets and meet you at a prearranged location. This person should be confortable with your pets, know where your animals are likely to be, know where your pet disaster supplies kit is kept, and have a key to your home. If you use a petsitting service, they might be available to help, but discuss the possiblity well in advance.

Planning and preparation will enable you to evacuate with your pets quickly and safely. But bear in mind that animals react differently under stress. Outside your home and in the car, keep dogs securely leashed. Transport cats in carriers. Don't leave animals unattended anywhere they can run off. tHe most trustworthy pets might panic, hide, try to escape, or even bite or scratch. And, when you return home, give your pets time to settle back into their routines. Consult your veterinarian if any behavior problems persist.

Enjoy your pets knowing they are safer thanks to your forethought.

Emergency Disaster Care
Your animal's best protection is being with you, and taking your pet requires special planning. Remember that evacuation shelters generally don't accept animals, so locate a safe place for your pets before disaster strikes.

Caring for Birds in an Emergency
Birds should be transported in a secure travel cage or carrier.

About Other Pets

Reptiles
Snakes can be transported in a pillowcase but they must be transferred to more secure housing when they reach the evacuation site. If your snakes require frequent feedings, carry food with you. Take a water bowl large enough for soaking as well as a heating pad.

When transporting house lizards follow the same directions as for birds.

Small Animals Small mammals (hamsters, gerbils, etc.) should be transported in secure carriers suitable for maintaining the animals while sheltered. Take bedding materials, food bowls, and water bottles.

Tornado Information
Tornados present an intense situation since your lead time might be more limited than in other disasters. Remember what happened to Dorothy in the movie Wizard of Oz when she wouldn't go to shelter without Toto, her faithful pet? By planning ahead you can take care of yourself and your pet.

When a tornado watch is given, you can begin preparations just in case they are needed. Locate your pets and put them in carriers or on leashes. You can put them in your predetermined safe place with food and water until the watch ends.

Pre-emergency training of cats and dogs to follow you to the basement of place of shelter on command can avoid a scramble when a warning occurs. Practice this training regularly to keep your pets and you ready for any emergency by making a game of going quickly to shelter and rewarding them with treats.

If needed, wrap cats and small dogs in a blanket or pillow case to carry them quickly to shelter. Keeping treats or a favorite toy in the shelter area can help calm your pet during hte wait for danger to pass.


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