Pets are important members of most households so, while preparing for possible emergencies, don’t overlook the needs of pets, says the Indiana State Board of Animal Health and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.
September is National Preparedness Month and officials recommend Hoosiers turn awareness into action and adopt the goal of being self-reliant for at least three days, in the event of a disaster or other type of emergency. That means having certain things available for the well-being of pets, too.
“If an emergency or disaster dictates people must evacuate their homes, it’s important they do not leave pets behind if at all possible,” said Denise Derrer with BOAH. “Pets most likely cannot survive alone, so we suggest keeping in mind that what’s best for a person is typically what’s best for pets, too.”
During a disaster, sometimes staying put is the safest place for families and their pets. Sometimes evacuation is necessary.
John Erickson with IDHS said, “Planning before an emergency happens can lessen the stress on people and animals. It could save a pet’s life. So while putting together a preparedness kit, if you have a pet, make sure to set aside food, water, toys and care items for them as well.”
Here are three simple tips to prepare:
• Identify a list of places that will accept people and pets: Some public shelters may not allow animals. Have a back-up location like a hotel or even friends or family who may be able to accommodate people and pets in an emergency.
• Prepare a portable disaster kit for pets: Have packed at all times things like a leash or harness with collar, pet carrier or cage for each pet, two-weeks’ supply of food and water, current photos of each pet, medications, vaccination records and medical records.
• Familiarize pets with their carriers or cage: Emergencies are stressful times for everyone and not the time to try to get pets comfortable with a carrier or cage.
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If families must leave pets behind, it’s imperative to bring them inside and place them in areas that are easy to clean and preferably are without windows. Keep dogs and cats separated, even if they normally get along. Never leave pets tied outdoors. Leave only dry food and put the food and fresh water in non-spill containers. If possible, leave a faucet dripping into a container or partially fill a bathtub. And try to set up a buddy system to check on each other’s pets. Leave a note on the outside of the room(s) where pets are to warn responders who may be doing welfare checks or searching for people who need help.
Go to http://www.in.gov/boah/2441.htm for more useful information.