pet lovers

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) declared last Wednesday as National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day. This declaration stresses the importance of making advance plans to protect your pets if disaster strikes.

Pet preparedness is essential when developing your family plans in the event of a disaster or critical event. Most pet owners consider their animals to be members of their family and would never dream of leaving their house without them. Often times, in a disaster, if preparations have not been made ahead of time, the decision of whether to risk your pet’s life or your own life becomes a reality.

The Central California Animal Disaster Team (CCADT) was formed in 2011 to come to the aid of those animals that have been left in harm’s way. This team is a great resource to the counties of Fresno, Kings, Madera, Mariposa and Tulare; however, it is the responsibility of pet owners to have a plan to protect their animals.

“A majority of pet owners consider their pets to be family members. From studies done post-Hurricane Katrina, we know that people will re-enter a secured evacuated site to rescue their pets — or worse — risk their lives to save their pets. Being prepared in advance helps to ensure the safety of both the pet owner and their animal,” said Naomi E. Flam, founder of CCADT.

Here are some tips for pet preparedness:

Develop an evacuation plan: Create a plan for your family and pets. Practice this plan — don’t wait until you have to evacuate. Determine in advance several locations where you may go, such as the home of family or friends or pet-friendly hotels/motels. Create a “buddy system” with a trusted friend or neighbor to evacuate your pets in case you are not home.

Note: Red Cross shelters do not allow pets except service animals.

Pet identification: All pets need identification. Collars and updated ID and license tags are necessary, but may not be enough. Micro-chipping your pet is recommended, so talk to your veterinarian about your options.

Photos of you and pet: Have photos of you and your pet together. Photos may help for reunification if you and your pet become separated. Place a copy of the photo(s) in your emergency kit.

Pet emergency kits: These kits should have pertinent information on your pet. Include medical records, medications, contact information, extra leashes, food and water (a minimum of seven days), extra bowls, cat litter, toys and other items.

Vaccinations: It is imperative that your pet be up to date on vaccinations. If they need to be placed in an emergency animal shelter, they may be housed with animals that have not been vaccinated.

First-aid kit and first-aid reference book: Have a small first-aid kit available. Common injuries are to the pads of feet, tails and ears. First-aid supplies include sterile gauze pads, bandage tape, “vet wrap,” bandage scissors, sterile eye rinse and rubber gloves (for yourself).

For large animals: If you own livestock, equine or other large animals, you also need to make a plan to evacuate. Do you have a trailer or a means to transport them? If you don’t, locate people with trailers who may be able to assist you. It is recommended that you evacuate early if you have a high number of large animals; otherwise, be sure you have a shelter-in-place plan.

For the safety of you and your pet, be prepared and have a plan.

For more information on disaster preparedness for small and large animals, visit www.ccadt.org, www.ready.gov or www.avma.org.

Courtney Espinoza is the emergency services coordinator for Kings County. Read other Preparedness Facts articles at http://bit.ly/uT4nh3.

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