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American Red Cross reminds owners of pet disaster preparedness in emergencies

American Red Cross of Colorado

COLORADO (KRDO) -- In the wake of Hurricane Ian making landfall Wednesday, the American Red Cross of Colorado is reminding pet owners to be prepared for disasters and emergencies. While Colorado might not experience tropical storms, our state can experience a wide range of extreme weather and natural disasters like wildfires.

The Red Cross notes that in an emergency, pets will be even more dependent on their owners for their safety and well-being.

Below are the top tips for keeping your pet safe during a disaster:

  1. If it’s not safe for you to stay in your home during an emergency, it’s not safe for them either
  2. Include supplies for your pet in your emergency kit, or assemble an emergency kit for your pet
  3. Make an evacuation plan for you and your pets. Many hotels and shelters do not accept animal guests, other than service animals

Assemble an Emergency Kit for Your Pet

The Red Cross suggests keeping items in an accessible place and storing them in sturdy containers that can be carried easily.

Kits should include:

  • Sturdy leashes, harnesses, and/or carriers to transport pets safely and ensure that they can’t escape
  • Food, drinking water, bowls, cat litter/pan, and a manual can opener if your pet eats canned food
  • Keep medications and copies of medical records stored in a waterproof container
  • A pet first aid kit
  • Current photos of you with your pet(s) in case they get lost. Since many pets look alike, this will help to eliminate mistaken identity and confusion
  • Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to foster or board your pets
  • Pet beds and toys, if easily transportable

Create an Emergency Plan for Your Pet

Being prepared and having a plan can save their lives. The Red Cross says people should know a safe place to take pets during a disaster.

It's important to know which hotels and motels accept pets. Most American Red Cross shelters cannot accept pets because of health and safety concerns. Only service animals that assist people with disabilities are allowed in Red Cross shelters.

Additionally, keep a list of friends, relatives, boarding facilities, animal shelters, or veterinary officers that can care for your animals in an emergency.

Locally, the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region has promised to support pet owners during difficult times. In the past, HSPPR has offered temporary shelter during mandatory fire evacuations.

When doing evacuation drills, include pets so they become used to entering and traveling in their carriers calmly.

Make sure all of your pet's vaccinations are current and that all dogs and cats are wearing collars with securely fastened, up-to-date identification. People are also encouraged to get their pets microchipped by veterinarians.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) also recommends using a rescue sticker alert to let first responders and others know pets are inside your home.

Help Pets Recover After a Disaster and Emergency

Following an emergency, the Red Cross says your pet's behavior could change drastically. Owners are advised to do the following:

  • Watch your animals closely and keep them under your direct control as fences and gates may have been damaged
  • Pets may become disoriented, particularly if the disaster has affected scent markers that normally allow them to find their home
  • Be aware of hazards at nose and paw or hoof level, particularly debris, spilled chemicals, fertilizers, and other substances that might not seem to be dangerous to humans
  • Consult your veterinarian if any behavior problems persist

For more information on pet disaster preparedness, click here.

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