TVMA Urges People to Include Pets in Natural Disaster Preparation Plans

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In the midst of hurricane season, the Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA) is urging people to prepare for not only hurricanes but also for all types of emergencies. For pet owners, this means including pets in disaster preparation plans.

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One of the key components of developing a disaster preparation plan is establishing an evacuation strategy, which involves determining how to get your pets safely out of the house and off the property and to a safe place to stay.

Hurricane season is here, and many Texans are still reeling from the devastation brought by Hurricane Harvey in August 2017. It is nearly impossible to predict the severity of damage that natural disasters, such as Harvey, can inflict on communities. However, it is crucial to prepare for not only hurricanes but also for all types of emergencies. For pet owners, this means including pets in disaster preparation plans.

One of the key components of developing a disaster preparation plan is establishing an evacuation strategy, which involves determining how to get your pets safely out of the house and off the property and to a safe place to stay. Many disaster shelters do not accept pets, so find one that does ahead of time or secure an alternate safe haven for your pets. Consider making arrangements for boarding in case of home destruction, and be sure you have crates for each pet that will fit your vehicle. In addition to dogs and cats, it is crucial to plan ahead and make sure farm animals and livestock are also accounted for.

It is important to assemble a survival kit for each of your pets. Just as humans need food, water and additional items such as medication, pets will need an ample supply of these things as well. In the kits, there should be at least three to seven days worth of food and water, photos of pets for identification, proof of health care, emergency contact information and your veterinarian’s contact information. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has species-specific guides and resources available to the public to ensure you have all possible necessities: https://tinyurl.com/yb7k9rqf

Aside from assembling a survival kit, make sure your pet is up-to-date with his or her vaccinations. Shelter-type situations are breeding grounds for the spread of diseases like canine influenza, feline distemper and rabies. Pets that are vaccinated are less likely to contract and spread these diseases, especially in close quarters.

Making sure your pet is properly identified is also imperative. If your pets happen to get lost during an evacuation or a disaster, you will have a much better chance of finding them if they are microchipped and tagged. It is also important to maintain an up-to-date contact information list with phone numbers for the veterinarian, emergency animal hospital, fire department, police station, animal shelter and the nearest relative or friend who could shelter your pet.

“Having your pet microchipped is critical,” said TVMA Disaster Preparedness Committee Chair Heather Timmermans, DVM, who is head of the emergency and critical care department at MedVet Dallas. “That way if you’re separated from your pet, then we can identify who the owner is and get in contact with them.”

For more information on disaster preparedness, please visit these websites: https://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit
http://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/pet-disaster-preparedness
https://www.banfield.com/getmedia/d029965b-cc9f-4a06-9894-275e8cf35dbe/Disaster-Preparedness-For-Pets_LR.pdf

About the Texas Veterinary Medical Association
Founded in 1903, the Texas Veterinary Medical Association is a professional association composed of more than 3,700 veterinarians committed to protecting public health, promoting high educational, ethical and moral standards within the veterinary profession and educating the public about animal health and its relationship to human health. For more information, call 512/452-4224 or visit http://www.tvma.org.
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