Preparedness key in getting pets out in emergency |

Preparedness key in getting pets out in emergency

Summit Daily file photo/Kristin Skvorc

FRISCO – When wildfires blaze and floodwaters rage, what happens to Fido as the people leave town? Nancy Ring, executive director of the Summit County Animal Shelter, recommends that “every family or person should have a plan for the evacuation of every person and pet.”Ring suggests putting together a crate of supplies for pets today, rather than waiting to pack in the event of an emergency. The crate should be easily picked up and removed and have the capacity to hold the pet inside it. The crate should be sealable, allowing for quick and easy transportation of a pet. Some animals may become escape artists if not sealed in a crate.

“Not many cats stay where you need them to for transportation,” Ring said. Ring also recommends that pet owners designate a neighbor or friend to act for them in case an evacuation order comes when the pet owner is away from home. A drill can be very helpful in evacuation plans, Ring said. Just loading the animals up and driving around the block can be sufficient practice. Livestock owners face additional challenges when evacuating their animals.

“Pets are much easier to accommodate than horses,” Ring said. People with livestock should figure out how many of their animals they can transport via trailer, and make arrangements to use other people’s trailers if needed. If a horse is unfamiliar with being transported in this way, Ring suggests walking the horse in and out of the trailer to get it comfortable with the process. Horses and other livestock will need a three day-supply of food, water and hay. Domestic pets also require a three-day supply of food and water.For most pets, the Summit County Animal Shelter will be there when the people leave their homes, Ring said. It will act as a “co-shelter” to whatever human accommodation is made since pets aren’t allowed in the human shelter.

Larger animals, such as livestock, will be accommodated at fairgrounds in neighboring counties, Ring said. Ring cautioned against waiting until the last minute to get pets out of a danger zone. The disaster of Hurricane Katrina re-emphasized that “very, very real bond between people and their pets,” AARP Bulletin editor Jim Toetman said. Toetman said tens of thousands of pets were lost or stranded in Hurricane Katrina. “Planning can mitigate and minimize the agony,” he said.

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