National Pet Appreciation Week and Pet Preparedness Month

This upcoming week is National Pet Appreciation Week- what are your plans to celebrate? The entire month of June is National Pet Preparedness Month, and National Pet Appreciation Week is the first week of June, so perhaps your plan for showing your appreciation for your pet could include developing a solid disaster and emergency preparedness plan for you and your pets. When disaster strikes no one has to leave behind their pets - as long as you have a plan.

Often times disasters, particularly natural disasters, will strike with little to no warning, catching victims off guard. Having a predetermined plan of action can help to keep you and your pets safe. A plan of action should include having readily accessible emergency preparedness kits for yourself as well as your pets. In the kit for your pet you will likely want to include several things. The most important to have are copies of any licenses and registrations that you may have for your pet. Copies of vaccination records, particularly rabies, are also very important to have available in order to make sure you can be easily reunited with your pet; without vaccine records animals may potentially be held by authorities for medical observation rather than being released to owners right away. Having backup medication is wise if your pet has any chronic medical issues or if there are any medications they take regularly and would benefit from having.

Other things that are recommended to include in your pet's emergency preparedness kit include at least two bowls- one each for food and water, a water bottle, a kennel or crate that your pet can comfortably fit into, blankets or other bedding for their comfort, several meals worth of dry or unopened canned food, and some toys or bones to help distract your pet from the stress and anxiety that can result from being caught in an emergency situation. Having copies of registration and licensing papers, as well as vaccination records, on hand can help to ensure that you are reunited with your pet should the emergency result in separation between pet and owner.

In addition to the above material items it is also advised to have a printed contact list, as well as printed instructions for your pet's care. Having a contact list which includes several people who could be contacted to help claim and care for displaced pets can be extremely helpful, particularly if disaster strikes while you are away from home. This contact list should also include the name and contact information for your regular veterinarian, as well as a preferred emergency veterinary clinic. Printed instructions for your pet's care can help to ensure your pet receives the care it needs in the event of separation between pet and owner.

When disaster strikes it is very common that people and their pets will need to be housed separately- most emergency shelters have a separate wing, if not an entirely different location, where they keep animals. Being able to leave a contact form with your pet which includes your own information can expedite the process of having your pet returned to you once you are able to take your pet back.

Many communities will have local Disaster Response Teams and Community Animal Response Teams whose responsibility it is to coordinate the emergency response efforts. Part of your personal emergency preparedness plan could also be researching your local DRT and CART and noting any designated emergency shelter locations for both people and animals. In addition, you may also want to check out the FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and EMI (Emergency Management Institute) websites for further ideas on how to prepare yourself and your pet's for the worst.

Visit the following websites for more information on how to develop your own emergency preparedness plan and skills:

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