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Disaster preparedness important for companion animals

By Linda Graves

Although June 1 is the start of hurricane season, we have already experienced two named storms that formed in May. Could this be an indication that this year may be an active hurricane season?
Now is the time to have your disaster plan in place. Do you live in a low lying area? Do you live near a river? Would your property flood if we received heavy rains? Do you live in a mobile home? Have a plan long before a disaster hits.
What will you do if you have a pet or multiple pets and you have to evacuate? If it is not safe for you to stay, it is not safe for your pets. If you leave your pets behind, it is likely your pets will not survive.
Prepare now! Make sure your pets’ vaccinations are current. Most pet friendly shelters and boarding facilities will require you to show proof of current vaccinations. Carry your pets’ vaccination records with you in a waterproof pouch. If you plan to stay in a pet friendly hotel, confirm reservations early. Along with your own supplies, bring with you plenty of food for your pet, water, pet supplies, a crate, and pet medications that your pet may be taking. Make sure your pet is wearing identification. Having your pet micro-chipped is an added way to assure that you are reunited with your pet should you become separated.
Have a second plan to fall back on if your first plan cannot be implemented. For example, if the hotel is full, or if there are no vacancies at the boarding facility, you will need to implement your back up plan. Your back up plan may be to drive to Georgia. If you need to evacuate, leave as early as possible so as not to get caught in evacuation traffic jams. 
When a hurricane is coming your way, call a family member or friend outside the projected impact area to let them know where you plan to be.
We must make responsible decisions for our own safety as well as for the safety of our pets.
If a hurricane is approaching, take action. Stay calm, implement your disaster plan, and stay safe through our hurricane season.
Next week: Disaster Preparedness for Livestock.