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Evacuating With Your Pets
Hurricane season isn't over yet. In the wake of Hurricane Ike's
wrath, we are again reminded of the stress and chaos that can come
from evacuations. Though a difficult time for everyone, pet owners
have the added responsibility of making sure their furry (or scaly)
friends are safe.
First and foremost, do not leave your pets behind. If the
situation is not safe for you, it is not safe for them. There is no
way of knowing how long the evacuation will last, or what damage
your home might experience.
"Saving the Whole Family," a brochure in the American Veterinary
Medical Association's disaster preparedness series, recommends
planning ahead. Create a disaster kit that you can grab on your way
out. Of course making sure your pet has food and water is the most
important necessity for their survival, but there are a few very
important, less obvious things you need as well.
The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends having
these essentials in your disaster kit:
Identification- Make sure your pet has on ID. Whether it is a
collar tag, microchip, temporary neckband, or tattoo, your animal's
identification needs to be visible to others in case they get lost.
If they do not wear identification on a daily basis, have a form of
ID in your disaster kit that is ready to be placed on your pet.
Transportation/Housing- Have carriers for all your animals. It
is important to have a place to keep your animals in case you are
not able to let them roam free once you get to your
"Even if you are taking your pets to a friend or family member's
house," says Dr. Debra Zoran, a veterinarian at Texas A&M
University, "having a crate to keep your pet in is important to
give them a sense of security as well as a place of refuge in the
event there are problems between pets on the premises."
When dealing with cats Zoran recommends having a crate large
enough to hold their bed and litter box.
"The bigger the crate the better, the more the cat can move
around the more comfortable it will be," Zoran adds.
Veterinary records-Make photocopies of vaccination records and
medical history and take them along. Keep the list of vaccinations
your pet has received and the dates on which they were given. Also
make sure to have a copy of their rabies certificate. In their
medical history the AVMA suggests having important test results on
file as well as a list of medical conditions.
Emergency contact list-This list should be prepared before an
evacuation situation. Some basic numbers to include are your
personal phone numbers, the number of someone that can be contacted
in case you are not available, your veterinarian's name, address,
and phone number, a the information of a veterinarian where you
will be evacuating to.
If you are evacuating to a shelter, proof of ownerships is
essential. Get photocopies of registration information, adoption
papers, proof of purchase and microchip information to keep with
you. Have a list of each animal's species, breed, age, sex, color
and distinguishable characteristics. It is also important to have
current photos of your pets and pictures of you and your pet in
case there is a dispute of ownership.
For more detailed information on these essentials, as well as
extensive lists for pet disaster kits view the "Saving the Whole
Family" brochure found at the American Veterinary Medical
Association's disaster relief website www.avma.org/disaster.
Having a disaster kit ready can help you be prepared for an
evacuation, but the evacuation itself can be incredibly stressful
on our pets.
If you get stuck in traffic Dr. Zoran recommends letting your
pets out frequently, but have them on a leash at all times. Put the
leash on your pet before you open the door.
"It is best to keep cats in their crates, but if you plan to let
the cat out, make sure you have a harness for it to wear," suggests
Zoran, "If a cat is stressed and not in its crate, when you open
the car door it can easily escape."
Evacuation can be just as stressful for your pet as it is for
you. Dr. Zoran suggests having their favorite toys and comfort
items on hand can give them a sense of normalcy in the
Prepare ahead of time for evacuations. Having a pet disaster kit
ready to go at a moment's notice can help make a stressful
situation a little less traumatizing for you and your pet.
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