WILLISTON, Vt. – You’ve made an emergency plan and set up a phone tree for your family members to call during a disaster. You’ve even put together a disaster kit with water, food, a flashlight and portable radio.
But have you planned for what you’ll do with your dog or cat if a flood or other disaster strikes?
September is National Preparedness Month, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency is urging people to remember their pets as they make plans to cope with an emergency.
“For many of us, a pet is a beloved family member,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Mark Landry, the head of FEMA’s Vermont operations. “As you are taking steps to ensure your family’s safety, don’t forget that emergencies affect animals as well.”
Some of the things you can do to prepare for the unexpected, such as assembling an animal emergency supply kit and developing a pet care buddy system, are the same for any emergency.
Whether you stay put in an emergency or evacuate to a safer location, you will need to make plans in advance for your pets but bear in mind that what’s best for you is usually what’s best for your animals.
“Vermont has the highest rate of pet ownership in the nation at over 70 percent,” said Deputy Federal Coordinating Officer James McPherson. “That means most Vermonters need to think about their needs as well the needs of other family members.”
While many emergency shelters will not permit pets inside, officials still advise against leaving them behind if you are forced to evacuate, instead urging people to make alternative arrangements.
“If you evacuate your home, you should bring your pets with you,” Landry said. “Pets will find it difficult to survive alone, and even if they do you may not be able to locate them when you return.”
Pet owners should keep a photograph of themselves with their pet both to establish ownership and assist in efforts to locate the pet, and may wish to consider having a microchip implanted in their animal to make identification easier. A collar with a Global Positioning System (GPS) device can also assist in locating a pet after a disaster.
For more information, check out: www.ready.gov/caring-animals
“Preparing Makes Sense for Pet Owners” Video- (closed captioning & ASL)
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