If you must evacuate

Leave early. An unnecessary trip is far better than waiting too long to leave safely.

All animals should have secure carriers or collapsible cages as well as collars, leashes, rabies tags, and identification tags. Carriers should be large enough for the animals to stand comfortably and turn around. Train your pets to become familiar with their carriers ahead of time. Then the carrier will be a secure and comforting refuge if the animal is required to live in it for days, or even weeks, after the storm.

Before tornado season begins in the spring or summer, make sure all your pets have current immunizations and take their records with you if you must evacuate.

Photograph each of your pets before the storm season each year and include these photos with your immunization records.

Your pet survival kit should include ample food for 2 weeks, water and food bowls, medications if needed, specific care instructions (in case you will not be the one caring for them), newspapers and plastic bags for waste, brushes, combs and other hygiene items, toys, other comfort items (a special blanket, for example), muzzles if necessary. A manual can opener is a necessity. All belongings should be marked with identification. If you are not evacuating your animals to a commercial facility, you should also include first aid supplies for your pets in their survival kit.

Take first aid and CPR courses and keep the manuals handy. The same basic priniciples apply to animals as to humans. Ask your vet for an emergency care pamphlet.

If you plan to shelter your pets at a kennel or clinic, call before evacuating to determine if space is available. Allow sufficient time to travel from the kennel to your evacuation location after making certain that your animals are secure.

If you have exotic pets, contact local pet stores or appropriate experts for assistance in sheltering your special pet. Again, be prepared to supply appropriate housing for the pet (not glass) and other supplies necessary to sustain that pet for at least 2 weeks.

The facility you choose should be operated by knowledgeable and capable staff and the location should be high, dry and of sturdy construction.

Throughout the evacuation and the storm, your pets will need reassurance from you if you can be available. Remain calm, keep as close to their normal routine as possible for feedings, etc., and speak to them regularly in a calm, reassuring voice.

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