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As Hurricane Season Starts, Households in Coastal States Urged to Include Pets in Disaster Plans

With predictions for an active hurricane season this year, The Humane Society of the United States advises residents in East Coast and Gulf Coast states to keep their pets in mind when planning for natural disasters. People can take some simple – but critical – steps to keep their pets safe and healthy in severe weather and possible evacuations. More than 35 million people, many of them pet owners, live in areas threatened by Atlantic hurricanes. 

Jenna Morasca, spokesperson for The HSUS on disaster preparation, host of SIRIUS XM Radio’s EW Morning Live and “Survivor: Amazon” winner, said: “The most important thing to remember when you are preparing for severe weather is, if it’s not safe for you, it’s not safe for your pets. Whether you shelter-in-place or evacuate, you should be prepared to keep your pets with you and make sure you have adequate supplies.”

The HSUS Animal Rescue Team has a fully equipped response team to assist communities impacted by a natural disaster. In 2012, The HSUS responded to natural disasters in Kentucky, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the areas of New York and New Jersey hardest hit by Superstorm Sandy. In response to Sandy, HSUS staff and volunteers rescued 257 animals from the field, sheltered more than 500 displaced pets, and reunited more than 400 of those with their families.

AccuWeather forecasters predict an active and strong hurricane season from June to November, with the potential for three named storms to make landfall in the U.S. Pet owners can reduce their animals' chances of being at risk during a disaster by following the suggestions below.

Things you can do right now:

  • Put a collar with visible identification on your pets, including indoor-only pets.
  • Make sure your pets are up to date on vaccinations.
  • 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. Make a list of boarding facilities inland and know their vaccinations requirements.  
  • Create a list of hotels that allow pets. Plan on evacuating about 100 miles inland.

Pet emergency kits should include: 

  • Minimum of a three-day supply of food in airtight, waterproof containers and drinking water.
  • Bowls for food and water.
  • Current photos and physical description of your pets, including details on markings.
  • Medications, vaccination records and first aid pet supplies. Name and number for your veterinarian.
  • Comfort items such as a toy and blanket.
  • Small garbage bags.
  • For small dogs include: a sturdy carrier large enough to use as a sleeping area and a leash and collar.
  • For large dogs include: a collar and leash. 
  • For cats include: litter and litter box and a sturdy carrier large enough for transport and for your cat to use as a temporary “apartment” for several days.
  • For horses include: Coggins tests, veterinary papers, identification photographs and vital information such as medical history and emergency phone numbers.

A Zogby International poll after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast found that 61 percent of pet owners will not evacuate if they cannot bring their pets with them. In 2006, Congress addressed this issue by passing the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act, which requires state and local emergency management agencies to make plans that take into account the needs of individuals with pets and service animals in the event of a major disaster or emergency. It is crucial that all pet owners research their community’s existing human and pet evacuation plans and contact local government agencies if plans aren’t publicly available.

And finally, click here for a brochure on farm animals in disaster, including sheltering in-place preparations as well as evacuations.

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

**PSAs on disaster preparedness featuring Morasca are available for download.

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

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