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Are Your Companion Animals Prepared for Disaster?

By Heather Moore on

The devastating earthquake in Haiti serves as a reminder that disaster can strike at any time. While itís hard to prepare for sudden, catastrophic events like earthquakes and tsunamis, there are some simple things you can do to help keep your animals safe in the event of other natural disasters, such as hurricanes, floods, and even tornados.

Obviously, you should never leave your animal alone in a hurricane or other natural disaster. When Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans, thousands of dogs and cats were left to fend for themselves. PETAís rescue workers found abandoned animals inside demolished houses, stranded on rooftops and balconies, clinging to trees, and struggling to stay afloat in toxic floodwaters. After Katrina, there was a nationwide outcry for government organizations to include animals in disaster plans. While some progress has been made, itís wise to have your own plan in the event of an emergency.

When forecasters are predicting severe storms, flooding, or tornados, itís better to be safe than sorry. Take your animals to safer ground and remember to bring along their bowls, medications, and plenty of food. Not all shelters accept animals, but many motels do. You may want to call a couple of motels in the surrounding areas and create a list of motels that accommodate people with animals.

Should you need to evacuate, put small animals in secure carriers and put dogs on a leash with a harness. Animals should always have proper identification. Keep a current photo of your animal companion in your wallet in case he or she ever gets loose.

If you must leave your animals behind in a hurricane or a similar emergency, at least leave them inside the house. Donít tie them up or leave them inside crates, where they will be unable to flee rising floodwaters. Leave out at least 10 daysí supply of dry food and fill multiple bowls, sinks, pans, and plastic containers with water.

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