Preparedness for pets


Are we worried? Not.

Danielle has drifted off, Fiona is lurking in the Atlantic, Earl is heading up the coast and the country is acknowledging the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

Our local meteorologist Geoff Fox says Earl should not be that much of a threat to the Connecticut coast, but you can hear the excitement in his voice. You just know he’s waiting for the big one.

A hurricane – or any natural disaster – can take an incalculable toll in human life and property. However, there’s another element that goes on behind the scenes. Prior to Katrina people were forced to leave their animals behind since shelters for humans would not accommodate pets, and people lost their lives because they refused to abandon their pets. Katrina changed that and since then states and towns are required to have disaster plans that include pets.

The last hurricane that packed any kind of a punch along the shoreline was Gloria back in 1985, so we’re definitely due. The south’s experience in dealing with these storms hasn’t made it any easier for them, but we’ve probably become pretty compliant here. Our immediate area is somewhat protected from a huge storm surge by Long Island, but Geoff Fox says areas further east such as New London are more susceptible. One look at the destruction wrought by the 1938 Hurricane should be enough warning – and that was “only” a category 3 event.

While it’s relatively easy to throw some clothes in a suitcase and grab some valuables, it takes some thought to ensure the safety of our pets, especially if we have several. Moreover, the emergency kits we created in response to Katrina need to be updated and plans for their safety need to be reviewed.

Disaster ‘to do’ list

* Pack enough pet food and bottled water for a week.
* Keep a couple of extra, clean litter boxes on hand with a container of litter or purchase a couple of disposable litter boxes.
* Make sure ID tags are current, even if your cats live inside only; your dog’s license should be up-to-date. Consider microchipping your pet.
* Create a synopsis of your pet’s medical records, veterinarian contact information and list of medications and keep together with a current photograph and/or description. New to the market, TravelStix makes it easy to put all of your pet’s information on a two-gig flash drive. There’s one for cats and one for dogs (www.itravelstix.com).
* Be aware of plans made by your town and local Red Cross.
* Make sure your carrier or crates are accessible and stocked with comfortable bedding, extra harnesses and/or leashes and collars; don’t forget a couple of new toys.
* Have a list of pet-friendly hotels if you don’t have friends or relatives to stay with (see http://www.pets-allowed-hotels.com/us/).

The American Veterinary Medical Association has a detailed outline of disaster preparedness on its web site: http://www.avma.org/disaster/saving_family.asp.

Our pets offer us comfort, companionship and support and a time of crisis is not the time to let them down.

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About ExclusivelyCats
Sally Bahner is an expert in all aspects of cat care: Writer, consultant, speaker, instructor.

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