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Emergency Planning: Keeping Pets Safe From Harm

You may have seen images on TV showing dramatic rescues of family pets - pets that were stuck or left behind when floods, fire, tornados, hurricanes, or other disasters hit the area.

Evacuation orders are issued for the safety of the area residents, and families with pets are faced with the additional responsibility of ensuring the safety of their animal companions. Early preparation is important in helping to ensure the safety of your pets. Here are a few things to consider in an emergency situation:

  • Always take your pets with you.
    Pets left behind may be injured, lost, or may even die from starvation, exposure, predators, or accidents. Do not assume that you can later return for your pet, because "later" may be too late; you never know how long you'll have to stay out of the area.

  • Leave early
    - do not wait for a mandatory evacuation order or you may be told to leave your pets behind.

  • Be sure your pet always wears proper identification
    such as a collar with tags, tattoo, and microchip. You may also want to consider signing up with a national pet registry.

  • Keep your pet's documentation organized and in an easy-to-access place.
    Know where it is so that you can quickly grab it on your way out the door.

  • Keep dogs on leash and cats in carriers
    to prevent them from bolting in panic or confusion. When you hear of a possible evacuation order, bring your pets into the house immediately so that you can leave quickly with them if required.

  • Pack a kit for your pets.
    Include food and water for at least several days, medications, leashes or harnesses, carriers, bedding, toys, and a pet first aid kit.

  • Make arrangements with a trusted neighbor or friend just in case you're not home.
    This person should be comfortable with your pets and vice versa. Arrange for them to retrieve your pets and meet you at a specified location.

  • Find a safe place to stay ahead of time.
    Ask friends, family, and veterinary clinics outside of your immediate area if they would be willing to house your pets in case of an emergency. Make a list of pet-friendly accommodations in surrounding communities and ask them about their pet policies. As soon as you think you will be evacuating, call ahead to make arrangements.


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