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DISASTER PREPAREDNESS FOR YOUR FAMILY AND FOR YOUR PETS
The Connecticut Humane Society urges you to prepare for future disasters. The Federal PETS Act of 2006 and Local House Bill 5186 (signed into law by Governor Rell in May, 2007) require that service animals and pets must be included in any official disaster rescue planning.
For these laws to be completely effective, planning MUST start at home. Disaster can strike at any time. We must make preparations to evacuate in any situation. Don’t forget that house fires, carbon monoxide fumes, and other homeowner specific emergencies are also important to consider. If you are displaced from your home for any reason, proper planning will insure the safety of your entire family. Follow these 4 steps to create an evacuation plan for your family and for your pets.
1. PLAN AHEAD
Contact your local Emergency Management Office or American Red Cross Chapter for information about:
~ Which disasters could occur in your area.
~ How to prepare for each disaster.
~ How the public is warned.
~ Local evacuation routes.
~ Special assistance programs for elderly or disabled persons.
Red Cross disaster shelters cannot accept pets because of states’ health and safety regulations and other considerations. Pet owners and caretakers should take the following preparatory steps:
~ Make sure all of your animals are current on their vaccinations.
~ Make sure your children are knowledgeable about their school/day care emergency plans.
~ Make sure you fully aware of your employer’s emergency/evacuation plans.
~ Make a list of pet-friendly accommodations in and immediately outside your area and make a reservation if you plan to leave.
~ Ask friends and family outside your immediate area about providing temporary shelter for your pets.
~ Make a list of boarding facilities and veterinarians who might be able to provide shelter in an emergency.
~ Post “Animals Inside” stickers on your doors/windows to alert first responders that you have pets. Include a phone number where you can be reached.
~ Choose a designated caregiver who knows your pets to care for them if you cannot be reached in the event of an emergency.
~ Ask your pet-sitting service if they can help and find out how much assistance they can provide.
~ Some shelters do not accept animals due to allergy protocols. Find a shelter that is described as "co-located." This means that pets will have a kennel area separate from people, but close enough for owners to provide care.
~ According to federal law service animals MUST be sheltered with their owners. You may be required to stay apart from other evacuees, but you cannot be deprived of any supplies or service due to your accompanying animal.
2. ASSEMBLE DISASTER SUPPLY KITS
Make sure you prepare emergency supply kits for each human and each pet in your family. Kits should include at least a 7-day supply of food and water. Make sure every member of your immediate household knows where these kits are stored.
~ Bottled water, one gallon per person/per day
~ Non-perishable, high energy packaged food and a non-electric can-opener
~ Change of clothing, rain gear, sturdy shoes
~ Blankets and/or sleeping bags
~ First aid kit and prescription medications
~ Extra contacts or glasses
~ Battery powered radio, flashlight and extra batteries
~ Credit cards and cash
~ Extra set of car and house keys
~ A list of family physicians
~ A list of important family medical information like diabetes and allergies
~ Specialized items for infants, elderly or disabled family members
~ An emergency car kit to include battery powered radio, flashlight, batteries, blankets, booster cables, 5 lb. A-B-C type fire extinguisher, first aid kit, bottled water and non-perishable/high energy food items
~ Current medication
~ Medical/Vaccination records
~ Special medical/behavioral instructions
~ Picture of your pet, picture of YOU with your pet
~ Medical/Vaccination records and photos should be copied and given to someone OUTSIDE disaster area
~ All ID numbers (license tags/microchips/tattoos)
~ List of identifying features/marks
~ Emergency contact information for YOU
~ Emergency contact information for your PET (veterinarian, petsitter, etc.)
~ Emergency contact for someone OUTSIDE the disaster area
~ Food/water for 7 days
~ Pet first aid kit
~ 2 extra collars and leashes
~ Collapsible food/water bowl
~ Crate appropriate to the size of your pet
~ Blankets and toys to put in the crate for padding and to reduce stress
~ Cat litter and pan if you have cats
3. AS THE DISASTER APPROACHES
Evacuation warnings can come hours and even days in advance. Plan to take your pets with you when you evacuate. Leaving your pets behind could be a death sentence. At the first hint of a disaster, act to protect your pets:
~ Leave early; don’t wait for the mandatory evacuation order.
~ Call ahead to confirm emergency shelter arrangements for you and your pets.
~ Make sure your disaster supply kits are fully stocked and ready to take at a moment’s notice.
~ Make sure all your pets are inside the home so you don’t have to search for them if you have to leave.
~ Make sure your dogs and cats are wearing their collars with securely attached ID information including your contact information and your temporary shelter location.
~ Make sure your designated pet caregiver knows where you will be temporarily sheltered and make pre-arrangements with them to deliver your pets in case evacuation orders come when you are not home.
~ Disaster can cause a great deal of stress for your pets. Make sure your dogs are wearing leashes and your cats/small animals/birds are in carriers. Don’t leave them unattended.
4. AFTER THE STORM
Your home may be a very different place when you return. Keep your pet’s safety in mind in the aftermath of the storm. They are still counting on you!
~ Don’t allow your pets to roam loose as familiar landmarks and smells may be gone causing them to become disoriented or lost.
~ If your house's exits may be damaged and insecure. Keep your pets in crates or isolated in specific rooms to prevent accidental escape or injury.
~ Be patient and compassionate with your pets. Their behavior may be unusual due to the changes in their routine.
~ If behavior problems persist or health problems develop, consult your veterinarian.
~ If you are not able to live in your home while repairs take place, try to find pet friendly temporary accommodations for your family until your home is ready for return.
The Connecticut Humane Society has been active in supporting pet-friendly legislation since our founding in 1881. After Hurricane Katrina, we sponsored the Federal Pets Act of 2006 and the State of Connecticut House Bill 5186 (signed into law by Governor Rell in May, 2007). For our State to effectively handle a disaster it takes all of us working together. You can get involved by becoming a volunteer for CTSart.
The State Animal Response Team (SART) program was developed in North Carolina after Hurricane Floyd, in which 3 million animals lost their lives. By creating a unifying partnership between emergency management professionals, veterinarians, animal care workers, non-for-profit organizations and state and local animal control officers, SART is able to quickly and effectively respond to any disaster in which animals are at risk. The Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association, the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, the Connecticut Department of Emergency Management, Homeland Security and the Connecticut Humane Society sponsor CTSart. Find out more at www.ctsart.org