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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Include pets in emergency preparedness

Since June is National Pet Preparedness Month, I thought I’d take some time to write about my dog Bella. My family adopted Bella about 2 months ago. She is a sweet, precocious 1-and-a-half-year-old Italian Greyhound, Lab mix. My husband, daughter and I have made room for her in our hearts and in our emergency preparedness.

As an important part of our family, Bella is also a part of our emergency planning. If a disaster does happen, we want to know what we will do with Bella in any circumstance, whether we are sheltering in place or evacuating our home.

We recently reviewed and updated our family communication plan and emergency supplies kit. Our plan covers what we would do in the event of an emergency. It also has important contact information, including the phone number for Bella’s veterinarian. An evacuation route is part of our plan. We practiced it with Bella over the weekend. My daughter and Bella had a grand time practicing leaving the house and meeting at our designated spot.

We researched where we could take Bella if we had to go to a shelter.  In our community, animal shelters are often set up near shelters for people with help from the Humane Society and local animal shelters. I also wrote down phone numbers for pet-friendly hotels and asked my veterinarian about boarding kennels.

Our emergency supplies kit has enough food, water and other supplies to last every member of the family for three days. We looked at ours and added extra water for Bella. We packed some dog food and treats. We placed a spare leash in the kit, and my daughter added a couple of doggie toys. It’s a good idea to include a picture of your dog and a copy of his/her immunization records as well.

Make sure your pet’s identification tag is current and securely attached to his/her collar. In many areas dog licenses are mandatory. Check with your local county shelter. A microchip is a great idea for identification purposes. Owner contact information is on a chip that is inserted under the animal’s skin. A microchip won’t be lost if your pet loses his/her collar. Be sure to review the information on the chip, especially if you have moved or changed phone numbers.

Pets may act differently during and after an emergency. They may try to run away and hide. They may act aggressive out of fear. The Humane Society of the United States suggests bringing pets inside early before a storm, finding a safe place for them in the house, and keeping them close after an event.  The Humane Society also has suggestions for feral and outdoor cats, horses and farm animals.

I’m not expecting a devastating disaster in our community. I don’t sit and think about it on a regular basis. But disasters usually don’t warn us that they are going to happen. It is best to be prepared than caught off guard. So we review our plan, practice evacuating, and restock our kit once a year.

The Arizona Emergency Information Network (AzEIN) has many preparedness tips. You can also find information about potential Arizona hazards, along with and ongoing emergency updates.

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