Sunday, October 23, 2005

Animal Disaster Plan

From Cheryl Faulkenburry, Animal Behavior Expert
Center Hill School.

Listening to the plight of all the animals after Katrina, I’m worried about my own animals if a disaster should ever strike our area. Is there anything that I can do to be more prepared?

It’s always good to be prepared in case of any emergency. Most people think of preparing for their family, but they often overlook the needs of their furry family. Make sure you have three days of food and water set aside for your pets.

Put any medications, a leash, collar, toys, treats, and copies of vaccination records in a Ziploc bag and keep with the food. Include written instructions for the care of your pet- type and amount of food, medication amounts (if any), their normal routine (how often they go potty, what they like to play, etc.), and emergency numbers for people in your area as well as outside of your area who may be able to care for your pets in an emergency.

Check with your local Administration Office and see if there is a disaster plan in place that includes pets. If at all possible, it’s a good idea to bring a crate and the emergency kit that you’ve set aside so all the instructions are with the animal as well as their shot records.

Always make sure your animals have ID tags on their collars. Evacuation shelters are set up only during a “Declared Disaster,” not during every storm. Stay tuned to your radio to find out if there is a declared disaster in your area when storms approach.

Also have a list of animal-friendly hotels or friends houses outside of your area where you can evacuate with your animals if needed. You may want to leave before an evacuation is required to avoid the last minute rush and decrease the stress on everyone involved. If you have a destination set up ahead of time, you will know exactly where to go and can calmly take your family to safety where you can all stay together until the dangers pass. Take the time to plan and care for your family.

Remember that an emergency may not only be a natural disaster. You may end up in the hospital and need someone to go in and care for your animals. If you have everything necessary set aside in one place, this makes it easier for the caretaker.

It’s also a good idea to put a card in your wallet explaining that you have animals at home that need care if you are incapacitated. Be sure to list an emergency contact so someone can be contacted to care for your animals and where the supplies may be found. Being prepared for the unexpected will give you peace of mind during a very stressful time. Don’t wait until disaster strikes -- sit down with your family and make a plan today that includes everyone.

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