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Don’t Forget Pets in Disaster Planning

When making plans for dealing with emergencies, don’t forget your pets.

“Having a plan in place for your pets will help you remain calm and think clearly,” says [insert name and title] of [insert county name]. “Being prepared can save their lives.”

If you must evacuate in a disaster, you need to evacuate your pets, too. Leaving them at home could result in them being lost or injured, or they could die.

The Red Cross will not allow pets in disaster shelters because of health and safety regulations. However, service animals that assist people with disabilities will be allowed.

“Finding a safe place for your pets may be difficult, if not impossible, in the midst of an evacuation, so plan ahead,” [insert last name] says. “Do not wait until a disaster strikes to try to figure out what to do with your pets.”

Here is some advice to help you find shelter for your pets:

  • Contact hotels and motels outside your local area to check their policies on accepting animals. Make sure to ask whether the facility has restrictions on the number, species and size of animals it will accept.
  • Ask hotels and motels with “no pet” policies if those restrictions could be waived in an emergency.
  • Keep a list of pet-friendly places, including phone numbers, with your other disaster information and supplies.
  • If you are alerted about an impending disaster, call a hotel or motel to make reservations.
  • Ask friends or family members outside your area if they would be willing to shelter your animals.
  • If you have more than one pet, they may be more comfortable if they are sheltered together. However, be prepared to shelter them separately.
  • Make a list of boarding facilities and veterinarians who could shelter your animals. Include a 24-hour number for these facilities.
  • Ask local animal shelters if they provide emergency shelter or know of anyone who would provide that service. Animal shelters should be your last resort, though, because they may be overwhelmed by caring for animals they already have, as well as those displaced by the disaster.

You also should assemble a portable pet disaster supplies kit. You’ll need supplies for your pets whether you will be gone from home a day, a week or longer. Keep these items in an accessible place and store them in sturdy containers that you can carry easily (a duffle bag or covered trash containers, for example).

Here are items to include in your pet disaster kit:

  • Medications and medical records stored in a waterproof container
  • First aid kit
  • Sturdy leashes, harnesses and/or carriers to transport your pets safely and make sure they don’t escape
  • Current photos of your pets in case they get lost
  • Food, potable water, food and water dishes, cat box and litter, and can opener
  • Information on your pets’ feeding and medication schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and the name and phone number of your veterinarian in case you have to board your pets or take them to a shelter
  • Pet bed or toys if easily transportable.

 For more information, visit www.ag.ndsu.edu/flood or www.extension.org/Floods.

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