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May 20, 2013

Residents in the Path of Severe Weather Urged to Include Pets in Disaster Plans

The Humane Society of the United States Offers Life-Saving Strategies for Pets

As destructive tornadoes and other severe weather continue to threaten the Midwest and Plains regions, The Humane Society of the United States urges residents to prepare by taking some simple – but critical – steps to keep their pets safe.

While the path and impact of the storms are not certain, pet owners in Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas and Illinois should have an emergency plan that includes the safety of their animals.

“It is crucial that residents remember that if it isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for your pets,” said Anne Sterling, Midwestern regional director for The HSUS. “We recommend finding a safe place and keeping your pets with you. Pet owners should make sure to have carriers ready for cats and small dogs, and leashes for larger dogs.”

One of the most important things you can do to prepare for a natural disaster is make sure all pets are clearly identified with a collar and tags. That will ensure that your pet can be returned to you in the event you are separated from each other.

In the event of a tornado, go with your pets to lowest point in your house, such as a basement. If you do not have a basement, go to a windowless room or get in a bathtub under a mattress. Avoid staying inside a mobile home or vehicle where it is unsafe—instead seek shelter in a building with a basement.

Dogs who are tethered as a means of confinement or other animals left outside may choke to death on tangled leads or suffer other serious injuries. Pets should be brought inside and kept close in the event of hail 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. Horses should also have halters with proper identification. There may be times when taking your horses with you is impossible during an emergency. Consider your personal situation in deciding whether your horses would be better off in a barn or loose in a field.

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). Items should be refreshed every few months
  • Talk to your neighbors about how they can help your pets if you are not at home if disaster strikes
  • Create a list of hotels that allow pets. Know where you can take your horses: Make arrangements with a friend or another horse owner to stable your horses if needed

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
  • For horses include: Coggins tests, veterinary papers, identification photographs and vital information such as medical history and emergency phone numbers

Pet owners should be aware that many temporary shelters do not accept pets. Hotels and motels may be willing to lift “no pet” restrictions in an emergency. Friends and family members living outside the area may be able to provide shelter too.  Pet owners should remember that having your pet microchipped dramatically increases the chanced of reunion if that pet becomes lost.

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

**PSAs on disaster preparedness featuring Jenna Morasca, host of SIRIUS XM Radio's EW Morning Live, “Survivor: Amazon” winner and spokesperson for The HSUS’ Disaster Services, are available for download.

Media Contact: Stephanie Twining, 301-258-1491, stwining@humanesociety.org

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