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DISASTERS like hurricanes, tornadoes and floods don’t just affect you -- they also affect your pets. And your pets depend on you for their safety. There are many ways to be "Pet Prepared," but you must think ahead and start planning NOW. Your local Humane Society or your veterinarian can help you. During a disaster, if you see an injured or stranded animal that needs help, tell your parent or adult to contact your local animal control officer or animal shelter. Remember, even if you don’t have to evacuate, your pet may be stressed or upset and will need extra attention.

IF you need to evacuate (leave your home for safer ground) the most important thing is to TAKE YOUR PET WITH YOU. Leaving pets behind, even if you try to create a safe place for them, is not the best action. BUT, pets cannot go with you to a Red Cross emergency shelter (unless they are service animals, like dogs for the visually impaired.) Since your pet cannot go to the shelter, you need to plan ahead.

CONTACT hotels or motels outside your immediate area and ask about their policies on accepting pets during an emergency. Keep a list of "pet friendly" places in your emergency kit so you"ll know where to go. If you get advance notice that you will need to evacuate, call and make a reservation at the "pet friendly" places right away!

You can also ask friends or relatives outside the area if they could keep your pets in an emergency.

Prepare a list of boarding facilities and veterinarians who could shelter your animals in an emergency. Keep the list in your emergency kit.

If you have more than one pet, they may be more comfortable if they are kept together, but in an emergency that might not be possible.

If you are under a disaster warning, keep your pets inside with you so you don’t have to look for them if you have to evacuate. Make sure they are wearing collars and identification tags.

BIRDS should be moved in a secure travel cage or carrier. If the weather is cold, wrap a blanket over the carrier and warm up the car first. During warm weather, carry a plant mister to mist the birds’ feathers from time to time. Do not put water in the carrier, instead put a piece of fruit or vegetables with high water content. Keep a photo of your bird for identification. Try to keep the carrier in quiet place, but DO NOT let your pet out as they may fly away in the confusion.

Lizards should be treated like birds.

SNAKES should be put in a pillowcase when they are evacuated. You will need to put them in a more secure place when you reach the evacuation site. If your snake requires regular feeding, carry food with you. And take a water bowl large enough for soaking your snake as well as a heating pad.

Pocket pets, like hamsters or gerbils, should be moved in their secure cages or carriers. Take bedding materials, food bowls and water bottles.

It is important to take your pet with you. If you cannot, make sure your pet can get into a safe, secure room without windows, but with adequate air. (Like a big bathroom). Leave enough food for three days. Leaving enough water for your pet is very important. One pet can drink several gallons of water a day. Put water in containers that are not easily knocked over. Leave a faucet dripping into a bathtub or sink (with the drain open!). Leave their favorite bed and toys. Don’t confine dogs and cats in the same space. Put a notice on your front door saying where your pets are in the house and a phone number where you will be.

Never, never, never leave your dog tied up outside!

Your pet disaster kit should include:

  • Pet food and treats
  • Drinkable water in plastic bottles
  • Can opener for canned food
  • Pet medications and medical records in a waterproof container
  • Sturdy leashes, harnesses and/or carriers so you can move your pets safely and they can’t escape (remember they may be scared and may act different than usual)
  • Current photos of your pet in case they get lost
  • The name of your veterinarian
  • Pet beds and toys, if there is room.
  • All your pets should have an identification tag and collar, too.


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