Thursday, September 4, 2008

Plan for Your Pets in Case of Emergency

AAG Note: With all the hurricane threats upon us, please remember to plan for your pets in case you have to evacuate. Here are some tips from the Humane Society of the United States.

The HSUS urges residents to check their local Web sites such as the Florida State Agricultural Response team, flsart.org, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, gema.state.ga.us, North Carolina State Animal Response Team, ncsart.org and the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, scemd.org for updated information. Availability at shelters can be limited and residents are strongly urged to be self sufficient in caring for their families, including their animals.

The failure to plan for your pets' safety can lead to tragedy. Luckily, many lessons were learned after Hurricane Katrina where residents were forced to abandon dogs, cats and other animals by the tens of thousands. Early planning and coordinated evacuation plans avoided a repeat of Katrina during Hurricane Gustav. You can take simple steps to ensure that your pets will not be left in a dangerous situation.

A pet disaster kit should include:

· A three-day supply of food and drinking water, as well as bowls, cat litter and a container to be used as a litter box.

· Current photos and descriptions of pets.

· Up-to-date identification, including an additional tag with the phone number of someone out of the area in the event the pet becomes lost.

· Medications, medical records and a first aid kit stored in a waterproof container.

· Sturdy leashes, harnesses and carriers to transport pets safely as well as blankets or towels for bedding and warmth. Carriers should be large enough to comfortably house your pet for several hours or even days.

Evacuation planning for large animals should include:

· Evacuate animals as soon as possible. Be ready to leave once the evacuation is ordered. In a slowly evolving disaster, such as a hurricane, leave no later than 72 hours before anticipated landfall, especially if you will be hauling a high profile trailer such as a horse trailer. Remember: Even a fire truck fully loaded with water is considered "out of service" in winds exceeding 40 mph. If there are already high winds, it may not be possible to evacuate safely.

· Arrange for a place to shelter your animals. Plan ahead and work within your community to establish safe shelters for farm animals.

· Contact your local emergency management authority and become familiar with at least two possible evacuation routes well in advance.

· Set up safe transportation. Trucks, trailers, and other vehicles suitable for transporting large animals (appropriate for transporting each specific type of animal) should be available, along with experienced handlers and drivers.

· Take all your disaster supplies with you or make sure they will be available at your evacuation site. You should have or be able to readily obtain feed, water, veterinary supplies, handling equipment, tools and generators if necessary.

· If your animals are sheltered off your property, make sure they remain in the groupings they are used to. Also, be sure they are securely contained and sheltered from the elements if necessary, whether in cages, fenced-in areas, or buildings.

· Place horses' Coggins tests, veterinary papers, identification photographs, and vital information—such as medical history, allergies, and emergency telephone numbers (veterinarian, family members, etc.)—in a watertight envelope. Store the envelope with your other important papers in a safe place that can be quickly reached.

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