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Fri, Sept. 20

Pet disaster kits vital in case of evacuation

Take your animals with you! This statement sums up our position in event of an emergency evacuation. Saving the whole family, including the feathered, scaled, and four-legged members should be the objective if such an exercise becomes a reality. Each year, we experience natural disasters throughout our country that often result in the need to evacuate people and their pets from threatened locations. These disasters include hurricanes, floods, tornados, earthquakes, and fires. Seldom do we have a year go by without an evacuation made necessary by one or more of these perils.

In Arizona, wildfires are the primary disaster that cause the greatest concern. So far this year, record-setting weather conditions across our state have resulted in a severe situation that enhances the probability of wildfires. It's a real threat, and it has happened close to home on many past occasions. Of course, the first line of defense should be prevention - prevent a fire from starting in the first place. This includes closing our national forests, restricting the use of combustibles, and exercising extreme caution in our daily activities. The next step is protection, or taking action that will limit destruction should a fire occur, i.e. maintaining defensible space around our homes, installing automatic sprinkler systems, etc.

Preparation for an evacuation made necessary by a wildfire includes the elements of both prevention and protection: Prevention of injury and possible loss of life by proper preparation and protection of all family members by preparing for the possibility of an evacuation due to a wildfire.

Now, let's concentrate on preparations that will increase the chances that your pet(s) will remain unharmed in event you must evacuate your home due to a wildfire. The Humane Society of the United States offers the following suggestions on what to include in your pet disaster kit:

• Current ID attached to your pet(s)

• Food, water, and medicines for at least five days for each pet including bowls and a manual can opener if you are packing canned food

• Medical and veterinary records and a pet first aid kit including a pet first aid book

• Cat litter box, litter, litter scoop, and garbage bags to collect pets' waste

• Sturdy leashes, harnesses, and carriers to transport pets safely and to ensure that your pets can't escape. Carriers should be large enough for the animal to stand, turn around, and lie down. Your pet may have to stay in the carrier for hours at a time while you are away from home.

• Current photos and descriptions of your pets to help others identify them in case you and your pets become separated and to prove that they are yours

• Pet beds and toys, if you can take them, to reduce stress

• Information about your pets' feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to board your pets or place them in foster care

• A container to carry everything

Making a solid plan now, that includes your pets, will reduce your anxiety about the welfare of your animals should it become necessary for you to evacuate as a result of a disaster. Also, it may enable you to avoid the heartbreak of losing a beloved family member.

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