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Residents in the Path of Hurricane Irene Urged to Take Pets with Them If Evacuating

The Humane Society of the United States reminds residents in the path of Hurricane Irene to take their pets with them if they evacuate. Hurricane Irene is currently in the Atlantic Ocean, and is expected to make landfall somewhere between central South Carolina and southern North Carolina late Friday or early Saturday. Forecasters say Irene is now a major Category 3 storm that could strengthen before making landfall this weekend. The storm holds the potential to wreak havoc all along the Eastern seabord, with torrential rains, high winds, downed trees, flooding and power outages in major metropolitan areas including Philadelphia, New York and Boston by late Sunday.

"It is crucial that residents are prepared to take pets with them if asked to evacuate in the face of this potentially destructive storm," advised Laura Bevan, The HSUS’ Eastern regional director. "If it isn't safe for you, it isn't safe for your pets."

At this early stage Irene’s power and trajectory could change, so residents in the potential areas of impact should stay up-to-date on the storm’s progress. Pet owners should have an emergency plan that includes the safety of their animals, and always be informed about the potential for evacuation in their area.

This emergency supply kit should include:

• Three-or-more-day supply of food in airtight, waterproof container, and drinking water.
• Bowls for food and water.
• Current photos and physical description of your pets, including details on markings.
• Medications, vaccination records and pet first aid supplies.
• Comfort items such as a toy and blanket.
• Small garbage bags.
• For dogs include: leash, harness and a sturdy carrier large enough to use as a sleeping area.
• For cats include: litter and litter box and a sturdy carrier large enough for transport.

Pet owners should be aware that many evacuation shelters do not accept pets, and they must plan their destination in advance. Hotels and motels may be willing to lift "no pet" restriction in an emergency. Friends and family members living outside the area may be able to provide shelter too. Please check with your local animal shelter or emergency management office to determine if a pet friendly emergency shelter will be set up in your location. Pet owners should remember that having your pet microchipped dramatically increases the chanced of reunion if that pet becomes lost.

More than 358 million pets reside in 63 percent of American households. A Zogby International poll found that 61 percent of pet owners will not evacuate if they cannot bring their pets with them.

For more tips on preparedness plans that include your pets, visit humanesociety.org/prepare.