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Three Ways Pet Owners Can Prepare a Pet-friendly Disaster Plan


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As Texas residents cope with devastating flooding, Floridians and others along the eastern seaboard are already battening down the hatches in preparation for what could be a historic weather event. Hurricane Irma is expected to make landfall sometime in the next few days and bring with it potentially devastating rains, winds and flooding.

September is National Preparedness Month, and Pet Sitters International (PSI) is offering tips for to pet owners so they can be prepared for disaster and remember that “no pet left behind” is the best policy to avoid potential injury and death.

“Creating a disaster plan is an important step that people should take to prepare for an emergency situation, but pet owners need to make sure that they take their pets into account,” said Patti J. Moran, PSI president and founder.

PSI is offering three tips for creating a pet-friendly disaster plan:

  1. Find a safe place for pets to go. Many disaster shelters cannot accept pets because of state health and safety regulations and other considerations. Research local community resources to see which shelters may allow pets, or find pet-friendly hotel options on your evacuation route. Consult with professionals, such as a veterinarian or professional pet sitter, or out-of-town family and friends to identify a safe place for pets in the event of a disaster. Have this information handy should a pet owner need to evacuate on short notice.
  2. Assemble a portable pet disaster supplies kit. Whether a disaster keeps you from your home for days or weeks, pet owners will need essential supplies to care for pets. Keep items such as crates, food and water bowls, collars, leashes, a photo of with your pets, and important veterinary and vaccination records in a sturdy, waterproof storage container that can be carried easily. Make sure that each pet crate is marked with the pet’s name, the owner’s name and contact information.
  3. Identify a backup pet caretaker. Identify an alternate caretaker, such as a professional pet sitter or a neighbor, who can care for pets if disaster strikes when an owner is away from home or if unforeseen circumstances prevent an owner from returning home to rescue pets. Make sure the selected person is aware of the disaster plan and can easily locate your pets and pet disaster supplies kit in a home. Put this plan in writing as the caretaker may need to show proof of an owner’s permission to access their home in an absence. Include written permission to get emergency veterinary treatment for the pets in an owner’s absence. And if a pet has a favorite hiding place that it seeks when it is scared or upset, be sure the caretaker has that information. If an owner is using the services of a professional pet sitter, also be sure to inquire about his or her company’s disaster plan.

FEMA’s website Ready.gov also advises pet owners to ID their pets, which would be of critical importance if an owner got separated from pets. Make sure the pets’ tags are up-to-date and securely fastened to their collars. If possible, add the address and phone number of an owner’s evacuation site. Owners should also consider microchipping their pets.

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