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How to protect your pets in an emergency

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Don't wait for a disaster to think about your pets' well-being. Planning ahead can save much heartache and suffering down the road.

Here are some recommendations on how to keep animals safe and healthy from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society of the United States:

First off, get a rescue alert sticker that lists the type and number of pets in your house. Make sure you post it where rescue workers can see it. Include your veterinarian’s contact information on it.

Always bring pets indoors at the first sign or warning of disaster. Pets can become disoriented and lost during a crisis. In the event of flooding, go to the highest location in your home or to a room that has counters or high shelves where your animals can take shelter.

If you have to evacuate, do not leave your pets behind. Arrange a safe haven through friends or relatives outside your immediate area. Or contact your veterinarian for a list of preferred boarding facilities unaffected by the storm. Your local animal shelter may provide emergency foster care for pets.

Make sure all pets wear collars and up-to-date identification tags. In an emergency, put a piece of duct tape on the animal’s collar with the name and number of a friend or relative living outside the immediate area. Disasters can wipe out phone service for several days.

Keep an emergency supply and travel kit ready, including:

  • Canned (pop-top) or dry food
  • Kitty litter or paper towels
  • Pet first-aid kit
  • Feeding dishes
  • Extra leash
  • Travel bag or carrier
  • Blanket (for scooping up fearful pets)
  • Recent photos of your pets (for "lost" posters in case you are separated)

Store your emergency kit and leashes close to an exit in your home.

Small animals such as hamsters or gerbils should be transported in secure carriers. A snake can be transported in a pillowcase.

After the storm, keep dogs on leashes and cats inside carriers. If you’re still in your home, keep your pets inside for several days. Examine them for any injuries that may have occurred during the storm.

Be patient with your pets after a disaster. Stressful situations can result in many behavioral problems. Try to get them back to normal routines as soon as possible. If behavioral problems continue for several weeks, consult a veterinarian.