Shelter urges pet owners to be prepared |

Shelter urges pet owners to be prepared

SUMMIT COUNTY – If disaster strikes, will you be ready? Will your pet be ready?Whether or not you have heeded the Department of Homeland Security’s advice to gather up the duct tape and heavy-duty garbage bags to secure your house, Summit County Animal Shelter is hoping you do take steps to plan for your pet’s needs during a crisis.”Families with pets and livestock need to include their animals within the family emergency plan,” said shelter director Nancy Ring. “Failure to plan effectively can result in people placing themselves at risk while trying to protect pets and livestock.”The likelihood of a terrorist attack on Summit County may seem remote, but fires, avalanches, blizzards and transportation accidents occur with enough frequency to be a concern for state and local emergency managers.”Once a disaster hits, you can have a lot of displaced animals,” said animal control supervisor Lesley Hall. “Shelters may be inundated with stray animals, so what are you going to do with your animal if you lose your home?”Hall is coordinating a new group that will help Summit County residents respond to such scenarios or prevent them from happening in the first place. The Summit County Animal Response Team, a network of local government and nonprofit organizations, is developing strategies to handle animal emergency issues and educating animal owners on disaster preparedness.The local group is part of a larger, statewide animal response initiative spearheaded by the American Veterinary Medical Foundation.”We’re working to get groups organized – to have a veterinary team and animal rescue team ready to respond,” Hall said. “If a fire were to consume this end of the county and something were to happen to the shelter, where would we set up a temporary shelter?”As the response team works out its plans, Hall is urging animal owners to develop their own disaster response plans.”Home preparation really helps us out. You should have your own home disaster kit so you’re able to respond,” she said.Food and water top the list, but animal owners should also think about transportation needs, like crates and leashes. Increasingly, the Red Cross provides pet-friendly shelters during disasters, as long as animals are kept in crates.Free brochures on disaster preparedness for pets are available at Summit County Animal Shelter.Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 203 or

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