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Letter: Include Your Pets in Disaster Plans

Many LI residents were taken by surprise by last weekend’s storm and had no plan for their pets when they evacuated. This is a wakeup call given the predictions for a more active than normal Hurricane Season. Now is the time to make family evacuation plans including your pet.

Most shelters will not accept pets so you must make the plan keeping in mind a companion animal is happiest in a familiar, safe environment. Teach pets to be accustomed to crates, making him a more welcome guest in a friend or relative’s home.

Ask friends, relatives, breed club members, groomers, trainers or others outside of the affected area whether they could shelter your animals. Make your plan specific, designate a family member to be in charge of seeing to it the family’s emergency plan is followed as much as possible. Be familiar with an evacuation route, have an adequate, safe, secure and readily available container for each pet to be evacuated in and have evacuation kits for each family pet as well as human member of the family. A family plan should demonstrate the other family members are familiar with the plan and know how to carry it out in an actual emergency.

Assemble a pet disaster kit with your animal’s medical records, medications, collars, leashes, food, water bowl, photo of you with your pet. Bring enough supplies for 10 days even if you think you will only be gone a short time. Contact hotels and motels outside of your immediate area to check policies on accepting pets. Ask if a no-pet policy could be waived in a disaster. Don’t wait until the last minute to evacuate. Keep your gas tank full and bring your cell phone and car charger.

Questions? Contact the Pet Safe Coalition, Inc. (www.petsafecoalition.org) the only organization on Long Island dedicated exclusively to helping pet owners plan for disasters with their pets. Tell Pet Safe Coalition, Inc. about your family’s disaster plans and you could win a prize.

Nancy Lynch

President, Pet Safe Coalition, Inc.