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June 21, 2013

JEAN McGROARTY: What pet-related items are in your family's disaster kit?

Have plan in place if you must leave your home.

June is National Disaster Prepar-edness Month. Along with warm weather comes tornado season. Flood season. Winds. Volatile warm air/cold air mixtures that can send the community into a tailspin.

Though we may pride ourselves on being ready for potential disaster, are we prepared to deal with our pets if required to evacuate our homes?

In a disaster situation, it’s important to make a comprehensive plan before it happens, not just for ourselves, but also for the animals that depend on us. If we have to leave our homes, what will happen to the non-human members of our families? This spring’s flooding gave us a taste of what might happen, and now is the time to think about the possibilities before the really bad stuff hits.

WHAT TO DO WITH SPOT?

The most important thing to do for your pet if you must evacuate is to take your best friend with you. Our companion animals’ instincts aren’t what they were 4,000 years ago. They depend on their human guardians for just about everything, so leaving them behind won’t work.

That presents another problem. Red Cross disaster shelters normally do not accept pets, due to states’ health and safety regulations and other issues. You may be fortunate enough to find shelter with friends or relatives who will gladly accept your dog, cat, iguana or macaw. If that’s not an option, you will need to make plans in advance.

Find out what hotels and motels outside the immediate area allow pets. Many have restrictions on size, number and species, so be prepared to ask the right questions. If the hotel does not accept pets, ask if it would waive that policy in emergency situations. Prepare a list of boarding facilities or veterinarians who would shelter pets in an emergency, and include 24-hour telephone numbers.

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