Nearly half of Americans won't flee without pets

Nearly half of Americans won't flee without pets

Pet plans necessary during evacuation efforts, survey respondents say.
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Sep 11, 2008
By dvm360.com staff
A 2007 survey by the American Humane Association found that 47 percent of Americans would refuse rescue assistance if it meant leaving without their family pet. With Hurricane Ike moving toward the U.S. coast, residents and officials are being urged to plan for pet care in the event of evacuation.

The study found that nearly three out of four people (72 percent) agreed that there should be formal evacuation plans for pets. The support for formal disaster plans for pets and companion animals was strongest in the South and West, areas most closely associated with hurricanes and wildfires.

During Hurricane Katrina, nearly 10,000 animals were rescued by the American Humane Association, veterinarians and team members, and other volunteers and officials. Gustav's threat in early September led to temporary housing for more than 1,000 pets owned by residents who needed a place for their pets to stay during the evacuation. Here are more findings from the study:

* People with children were 62 percent more likely to leave their pet and evacuate than those without children.

* 55 percent of dog owners would refuse evacuation efforts, compared to 43 percent of cat owners.

* 45 percent of respondents said animals should be rescued only after all people have been brought to safety.

* 16 percent said pets and people should be considered equals and pets should be "rescued at all costs."

If clients in your veterinary practice need guidance with disaster preparedness, here are some tips you can offer from the American Humane Association:

1. Have a plan. Make sure the family knows who's in charge of getting the pets from the house or doggie daycare in the event of an emergency. Know where you will try to meet if cell phone coverage is poor.

2. Keep pet vaccinations up to date. Stay on top of the pet's vaccination schedule, and ask your veterinarian about keeping extra medications on hand during natural disaster season.

3. Know where pets can go. There may be a situation where you can't take your pet with you. Research animal shelters and boarding facilities that are prepared to house animals during a disaster and have the ability to evacuate the pets if needed. Also, keep a list of pet-friendly hotels in your surrounding area. You may need it if you're evacuating with your pet.

4. Update your pet's IDs. After a disaster, local residents can be displaced across the country and hard to find. In addition to your name and phone number, include contact information for an out-of-state friend or family member. This will ensure that if you're displaced and unreachable, somebody you trust and who is out of harm's way can claim your pet.

5. Prepare an emergency kit for pets. Leashes, collars, extra ID tags, water, food, medications, health records, first aid materials, and veterinary contact information should all go in the kit. Also include photos to prove ownership, and pack everything up in a bag or bin or put it in your pet's portable carrier. It'll be ready to go when you need it.

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