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Disaster Prep and First Response

American Humane Rescue’s 5 Tips for Disaster Preparedness

Clinging desperately to the floating wreckage of what was her home, Calypso, a tiny, five-week-old tortoise-shell kitten, braved the floodwaters, and ending up in the tangled bare branches of a blasted tree. When the American Humane Rescue team found her, meowing pitifully, dehydrated and covered with fleas, she was the only survivor from her entire litter. Thanks to their medical intervention and plenty of TLC, Calypso recovered and is now living in her forever home.

For more than 100 years, American Humane Rescue has helped our best friends in their worst times — saving, sheltering and feeding millions of animals who are abused, abandoned, or left homeless in the aftermath of disasters. Here are some lifesaving tips to keep your pets safe in a disaster so no member of the family is left behind:

1. Have a pet disaster preparedness kit ready

Disasters often strike without warning so prepare a kit with a waterproof bag, leash, blanket, first-aid supplies, medications and medical records in a waterproof container, food and water bowls, and 7-10 days of food. Pet owners should also have their pet’s crate or carrier at the ready.

2. Know where you’ll go in an emergency

Choose a safe place where you and your pets can go in a disaster. Contact your veterinarian for a list of facilities, find a safe, pet-friendly hotel, or ask your local shelter if they provide emergency shelter for pets.

3. Evacuate your family and pets as early as you can and never leave your pet behind

If you have to leave them behind, do not tether, crate or restrain your animals, giving them a chance to escape.

4. Make sure your animals have identification

Your pet’s tag should include their name, your telephone number and vital health information. American Humane recommends microchipping your pet to increase the chance of being reunited. Keep a photo in case you’re separated and need to identify your pet if it is rescued to a shelter.

5. After a disaster, keep a close watch on pets

Keep pets away from power lines, debris and contaminated ground water. Give pets time to re-orient themselves. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered, confusing your pet, who may get lost. Uncertainty affects animals, too. Your pet may become more aggressive or self-protective. Keep more room between them, other animals, children or strangers. Comfort your pet with lots of pats or hugs, and provide a quiet environment, even if it is not their own home.

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