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August 22, 2012

Residents in Possible Path of Isaac Urged to Prepare, Include Pets in Disaster Plans

The Humane Society of the United States offers tips to protect pets

As Tropical Storm Isaac threatens to gather strength as it moves westward over the Caribbean Sea, The Humane Society of the United States reminds residents in Puerto Rico, the Caribbean islands, Florida and other Gulf states to prepare by taking some simple – but critical – steps to keep their pets safe.

While the path and impact of the storm is not certain, it could produce high winds, mudslides and flooding in low-lying areas. 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. 

“It is crucial that residents are prepared to keep their pets inside if they are able to stay at home or to take pets with them if asked to evacuate in the face of this potentially destructive storm,” advised Niki Dawson, director of disaster services for The HSUS. “If it isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for your pets.”

Dogs who are tethered as a means of confinement or other animals left outside may drown, choke to death on tangled leads, or suffer other serious injuries. Pets should be brought inside in the event of heavy downpours, storm surge or high winds. It’s also important to provide for your pets in the event you lose electricity, making certain they also have adequate food and water.  

Things you can do right now:

  • Put a collar with visible identification on your pets, including indoor-only pets
  • Keep pictures of your pets on hand for identification purposes. Ideally, you should also be in the photo
  • Create a pet emergency kit (see below) and refresh the items every few months
  • Talk to your neighbors about how they can help your pets if you are not at home when disaster strikes
  • Create a list of hotels that allow pets
  • Plan on evacuating about 100 miles inland

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

Media Contact: Stephanie Twining, 240-751-3943, stwining@humanesociety.org

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