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Dog in the grassIn planning for stormy weather, it is important to account for all family members – even if they’re furry, finned or feathered.


Dr. Rosslyn Biggs, director of Continuing Education and Extension Veterinarian at the Oklahoma State University College of Veterinary Medicine, said pet owners should take extra precautions to prepare for weather-related and other emergencies. 


“While you’re stocking your storm shelter with bottled water and flashlights, make sure you have all of the essentials on hand to care for your pets should you need to evacuate to a safe place,” Biggs said.


If you do not have a storm shelter at home, keep in mind that you may have to go somewhere else to take cover. Also remember that the return may take several days in the event your home is damaged. Animals left behind in disaster situations may be injured or lost, so contingencies are necessary.


Items to have on hand and assembled in an emergency preparedness kit include pet food, water, a photo of the animal and a strong leash and muzzle. The kit can be as simple as a backpack or plastic container that is easily transported. It also is a good idea to have a record of current vaccinations and medical history with the contact information of the pet’s veterinarian in the kit. 


Make sure the pet has proper identification on it, such as a collar with ID tags that include the owner’s name and phone number. Microchip identification is highly recommended.


It is not just dogs and cats that need to have ID and documents on hand. Birds, small mammals and reptiles should have photos and medical records in an emergency preparedness kit, too. 


As for birds, during evacuation they should be carried in a covered cage to minimize their stress. This also will help keep the birds warm – it is common for the temperature to drop quickly during a storm. 


“In the event you have to evacuate your home, be sure you have identified a safe place to go, and remember Red Cross disaster shelters can’t accept pets. Check around in your area at different shelters and inquire about pet acceptance,” she said. “If a shelter isn’t available and you need to stay in a hotel for a few days, keep a list of nearby hotels that will allow pets. Other emergency shelter options for pets include a boarding facility or the home of friends or family who were not affected by the storm.”


Biggs said pets may react to changes in their environment and stressful situations by trying to run away or hide. In the process, they might bite or scratch their owners or anyone else trying to help them. Always keep pets under control with a leash or in a carrier while you are evacuating and at your safe place, especially if it is a public location.


“Pets are part of the family and rely on their owners to take care of them and keep them safe,” Biggs said. 



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