After the nightmare of Hurricane Katrina—during which countless animals languished and died because their guardians were banned from taking them along during evacuations—FEMA has designated May 8 as National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day and is encouraging everyone to make emergency plans for their animal companions.
Cats and dogs aren't any better equipped to survive an earthquake, a fire, a tornado, a flood, or a hurricane than we are, so it's vital never to leave animals behind during a disaster. If emergency shelters refuse to accept animals, you and your animal companions may be able to stay with friends or family or at an animal-friendly hotel. Many hotels also waive "No animals allowed" policies during disasters.
Have your animals microchipped, and make sure that they wear secure, legible ID tags. Assemble an emergency kit with leashes, bowls, towels, blankets, litter pans and litter, and at least a week's supply of food and medications. If you have no choice but to leave animals behind, leave out at least 10 days' worth of dry food and water (fill sinks and every container you have), and place signs in windows and on doors indicating the number and type of animals inside—rescue teams may be able to save them.
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Making emergency plans now will ensure that you and your animal companions can weather any storm.
Written by Lindsay Pollard-Post