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Include Your Pets in Disaster Preparedness Planning

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Many pets were left behind to fend for themselves during the wildfires in California’s Calaveras and Lake counties resulting in serious injuries, death or disappearance.

This occurred because the fire came so fast many survivors had no time to save the animals.

"Pets are members of the family. You wouldn't want to leave a family member behind during a disaster would you?" said Deputy State Coordinating Officer Charles Rabamad. "Having a plan and emergency kit for your pets is just as important as having them for your mother, father, sister or brother."

With predictions of more severe weather and flooding this winter due to El Niño now is a good time to develop both a family and pet emergency plan. Here are some tips on what to include in your pet plan:

  • If your pet doesn’t have a microchip, ask your veterinarian about the possibility. Make sure your pet’s tags are up-to-date and fastened to its collar. If possible, attach the address and/or phone number of your evacuation site. If your pet gets lost, its tag is its ticket home.
  • Make sure your pet’s immunizations are current and keep a copy of the veterinary records with you.
  • Take a photo of your pet and keep it with you for identification purposes.
  • Make a pet emergency kit. You should have enough pet food, bottled water and medications for three days. Also, pack cat litter and pan, manual can opener, food dishes, leash and collar, brush, blankets, a first aid kit and other supplies. A full list of items to include can be found online at www.Ready.Gov. Information also is available at www.Cal-cares.com and www.CDFA.ca.gov.
  • If you plan to shelter in place, identify a safe area of your home where you can all stay together. Put all emergency supplies in that room ahead of time, including your pet’s crate and supplies.

Include Your Pets in Emergency Planning

  • Consider checking with your local animal control agency or emergency management office now to determine if a pet-friendly shelter is available in your area. Make a list of boarding facilities and veterinary offices that might be able to shelter animals in disaster emergencies.
  • Make a buddy system with your friends or neighbors as a back-up emergency plan if you cannot care for your animals yourself. The buddy system will assure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so.

Those with larger animals such as horses, cattle, sheep, goats or pigs should also plan for these animals by:

  • Ensuring all animals have some form of identification.
  • Evacuating animals whenever possible. Map out primary and secondary routes in advance.
  • Making sure vehicles and trailers for transporting animals as well as experienced handlers and drivers are available.
  • Ensuring destinations have food, water, veterinary care and handling equipment.

Survivors can register for FEMA assistance online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 800-621-3362; TTY 800-462-7585711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362. Registration continues through Nov. 23.

For more information on California’s wildfire recovery, visit: caloes.ca.gov or fema.gov/disaster/4240 and follow us on Twitter @femaregion9 or @CAL_OES and facebook.com/CaliforniaOES and at Facebook.com/FEMA. For more information on preparing your pets for a disaster go to www.Ready.Gov.   The state program CARES also provides information on animal care and control in the event of a disaster or emergency. Find the agency online at www.cal-cares.com.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards.

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). If you have a speech disability or hearing loss and use a TTY, call 800-462-7585 directly; if you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362.

FEMA’s temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who are referred to SBA for a disaster loan must apply to be eligible for additional FEMA assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.

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