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A relentless string of hurricanes, wildfires, floods and other natural disasters is prompting people to pack go bags and create emergency plans. Such catastrophes also put pets in danger.
Dogs, cats and other pets need a plan, too.
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"Preparedness across the board is really critical,” says Tim Rickey, vice president of the ASPCA National Field Response, the team at the nonprofit humane organization that responds to disaster situations. “If you have an older animal or an animal with high anxiety or some other medical conditions, you have to be a little bit more thoughtful and plan ahead for that so that you are able to evacuate with the right resources and supplies and take those animals into the right type of environment.”
Last year, a national survey by the ASPCA found that less than half of pet owners have a disaster plan in place, yet 83 percent of pet owners reported living in a community that faces natural disasters. Additionally, more than 1 in 5 pet owners said they had evacuated their homes due to a disaster situation and of those evacuees, nearly half left at least one pet behind.
In that type of scenario, never leave without your pet, Rickey says. “Leaving a pet behind can expose them to numerous life-threatening hazards including the inability to escape the impending emergency — such as floodwaters and high winds — as well as having no access to fresh food and water for an unknown period of time,” Rickey wrote in an email. Here are some things to do to keep your pet safe during an emergency.