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Protecting Pets in a Disaster

Preparation

It is best to prepare an emergency response plan prior to any crisis to avoid suffering to our four-legged friends. The American Red Cross provides excellent materials that will also help you and your family to develop an emergency plan. You should decide ahead of time who will be responsible for pet care if any emergency strikes. Choose the best room in the house to leave your pet if necessary. Make arrangements with neighbors. Be sure they have keys to your home along with specific information as to what pets are there, where they are located, and instructions for any medication needed. It also helps if your pets are familiar with your neighbors ahead of time, so they will not be dealing with strangers, and adding to the stress. Train your pet to a crate. In a crisis, he may need to be transported, and the ordeal will be less stressful if the crate is a comfortable and familiar place. Always keep pet's vaccinations current.

It is a good idea to prepare a disaster kit for your pet which should include: collars, tags, and leashes, a muzzle or gauze bandage, two-week supply of dry food, water, bowls, paper towels, and plastic bags for waste clean-up, and copies of pet's medical and vaccination records. Your pet's crate should be labeled with the pet's name, your name, and where you may be reached, or an out-of-area phone contact, if phone lines are down, and any specific medical instructions for the animal. Prepare a telephone tree, with numbers of family, friends, veterinarian, local animal control, or shelter, local hotels which accept pets, etc.

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IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO LEAVE PERTINENT INFORMATION ABOUT THE PET INCLUDING:

Your name and whereabouts including phone number (cell phones especially),

  • Pet's name, age, vaccination status,
  • Name and phone number of family veterinarian,
  • Pet insurance papers (if applicable),
  • Any health issues or information about recent diagnoses, i.e., diabetic, epileptic, spayed/neutered, special diet, medications, heart disease, cancer, etc.,
  • Behavior characteristics, i.e., fearful, aggressive w/children, other animals.

In addition, it is a good idea to leave some type of signed authorization sheet, outlining your wishes (include financial parameters and humane and compassion guidelines) for your pet's care. Examples include:

  • I authorize veterinary health care providers to care for my pet in the following manner -- either authorize up to a certain reasonable figure: $300 - $500, or "whatever care is necessary."
  • I authorize that if determined to be suffering without reasonable chance for survival, that my pet may be euthanized following examination and determination made by a veterinarian. (or list the name and phone number of a person who may be authorized to make this decision under the advisement of a veterinarian in your absence)
  • Please provide only the basics for life-threatening conditions only.

WebMD Public Information from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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