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Pet owners should take severe weather precautions

Published on -5/28/2013, 7:23 AM

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Special to The Hays Daily News

As destructive tornadoes and other severe weather continue to threaten the Midwest and Plains regions, the Humane Society of the United States urges residents to prepare by taking some simple -- but critical -- steps to keep their pets safe.

While the path and impact of the storms are never certain, pet owners in Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas and Illinois should have an emergency plan that includes the safety of their animals.

"It is crucial that residents remember that if it isn't safe for you, it isn't safe for your pets," said Anne Sterling, Midwestern regional director for The Humane Society.

"We recommend finding a safe place and keeping your pets with you. Pet owners should make sure to have carriers ready for cats and small dogs, and leashes for larger dogs."

One of the most important things pet owners can do to prepare for a natural disaster is make sure all pets are clearly identified with a collar and tags. That will ensure pets can be returned if separated from their owners.

In the event of a tornado, pets and their owners should go to lowest point in the house, such as a basement. If a basement is not available, go to a windowless room or get in a bathtub under a mattress. Avoid staying inside a mobile home or vehicle.

Dogs who are tethered as a means of confinement or other animals left outside might choke to death on tangled leads or suffer other serious injuries.

Pets should be brought inside and kept close in the event of hail or high winds.

It's also important to provide for your pets in the event electricity is lost. Pet owners should make certain pets also have an adequate supply of food and water.

Horses also should have halters with proper identification. There might be times when taking horses to shelter is impossible during an emergency. Consider your personal situation in deciding whether horses would be better off in a barn or loose in a field.

The following are ways petowners can prepare for severe weather:

* Put a collar with visible identification on your pets, including indoor-only pets.

* Keep pictures of your pets on hand for identification purposes. Ideally, owners also should be in the photo.

* Create a pet emergency kit. Items should be refreshed every few months.

* Talk to your neighbors about how they can help your pets if you are not at home if disaster strikes.

* Create a list of hotels that allow pets. Know where you can take your horses; make arrangements with a friend or another horse owner to stable your horses if needed.

This emergency supply kit should include:

Three-or-more-day supply of food in airtight, waterproof container, and drinking water.

Bowls for food and water.

Current photos and physical description of your pets, including details on markings.

Medications, vaccination records and pet first aid supplies.

Comfort items such as a toy and blanket.

Small garbage bags.

For dogs include: leash, harness and a sturdy carrier large enough to use as a sleeping area.

For cats include: litter and litter box and a sturdy carrier large enough for transport.

For horses include: Coggins tests, veterinary papers, identification photographs and vital information such as medical history and emergency phone numbers.

Pet owners should be aware that many temporary shelters do not accept pets. Hotels and motels may be willing to lift "no pet" restrictions in an emergency. Friends and family members living outside the area may be able to provide shelter too. Pet owners should remember that having your pet microchipped dramatically increases the chanced of reunion if that pet becomes lost.

For more tips on preparedness plans that include your pets, visit humanesociety.org/prepare.

**PSAs on disaster preparedness featuring Jenna Morasca, host of SIRIUS XM Radio's EW Morning Live, "Survivor: Amazon" winner and spokesperson for The HSUS' Disaster Services, are available for download.

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Media Contact: Stephanie Twining, 301-258-1491, stwining@humanesociety.org

Subscribe to Wayne Pacelle's blog, A Humane Nation. Follow The HSUS on Twitter. See our work for animals on your Apple or Android device by searching for our "Humane TV" app.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization, rated the most effective by its peers. Since 1954, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. We rescue and care for tens of thousands of animals each year, but our primary mission is to prevent cruelty before it occurs. We're there for all animals, across America and around the world. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty - on the Web at humanesociety.org.

If you would rather not receive future communications from Humane Society of the United States, let us know by clicking here.

Humane Society of the United States, 2100 L Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037 United States

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