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Don't Forget Pets During Severe Weather Preparedness
Indiana Ag Connection - 02/28/2020

Indiana's Severe Weather Preparedness Week is March 1-7. Hoosiers are encouraged to remember their pets when thinking about emergency readiness plans.

In Indiana, two out of every three households claim at least one pet. Taking a few simple steps now can save precious minutes--and lives--when disaster strikes. Simple steps include: preparing a Go Kit, identifying pets, and finding pet-friendly places to stay if you have to evacuate.

Go Kits are easily compiled from pet supplies most people keep at home. The kits should contain everything a pet would need to spend 3 days to 5 days away from home.

Go Kit items can be packed in advance and be ready to take anytime. Essential items in Go Kits include: food and water (be sure to include a manual can opener for canned foods), bowls, treats, toys, leash, veterinary records (including vaccination dates), and medications taken regularly (rotate stocks to keep fresh). Cat litter (including a scoop and a foil pan) should be included in cat kits. Papers, medications and current photos can be kept dry in self-closing plastic bags. Once assembled, kits should be labeled (a luggage tag works well) with the pet's name and stored in an accessible spot in the house or garage.

In addition to a Go Kit, each pet should also have a carrier, cage or crate appropriate to the size of the animal(s) to make a quick evacuation easy and worry-free.

Pet identification is essential to reuniting pets with their families especially in a disaster situation. Each pet should always have accurate identification, whether it is a collar with a tag or a microchip.

Pet owners should also take time to consider the best place for their pets to stay should evacuation be necessary. Except for service animals, pets are not allowed in public disaster shelters for sanitation and public safety reasons.

Kennels, friends and relatives, and pet-friendly hotels are all options for pet owners who need to house their animals temporarily. Calling ahead to ask about policies--before an emergency arises--will eliminate stress later.

In some situations, transporting a pet to another site is not always possible. In those cases, pet owners should not leave their animals chained outside or free to roam; the pets and the people around them will be in greater danger of injury. Instead, containing the pet in a windowless room with food will provide safer, temporary shelter. Bathrooms are good choices because water can be provided in the bathtub or toilet with a raised seat.

Pet owners also need to be sure their animals' vaccinations, particularly rabies, are up-to-date.

For more information on caring for animals, before, during and after a disaster, visit the Indiana State Board of Animal Health website: www.in.gov/boah

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