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Animal Disaster Preparedness

Welcome to the pet care section of Diana L. Guerrero's Ark Animals. Government forecasters predict that this Atlantic hurricane season will be worse than average along the East and Gulf coasts -- with up to five major hurricanes forecasted. Colorado State University is forecasting seven hurricanes, with three designated"severe." Hurricane Katrina has devastated three states. Are you and your pet prepared? Animal expert Diana L. Guerrero offers 12 Pet Care Hurricane Preparedness Tips. Feel free to visit the media room for press releases, recent media coverage, and related items.

Animal Disaster Preparedness

Hurricane season is here again. Hordes of communities plan and execute strategies according to the unique needs of the district and the level of threat--but it never lessons the impact. Hurricane Katrina has reminded the nation about the importance of preparedness.

According to animal disaster expert Diana L. Guerrero, "Veterans of hurricane communities are familiar with the basic steps and supplies required for disaster preparedness and the safest routes to inland destinations, but many people forget to include their animals in those plans. And no matter how much you prepare you can never really brace yourself for the wreckage a disaster creates in your life or the life of those that you love."

Guerrero is the author of the booklet, "Animal Disaster Preparedness for Pet Owners & Pet Professionals" and is one of the contributing editors to "Resources for Crisis Management in Zoos and Other Animal Care Facilities, Volume I." The second volume is scheduled for release in the Summer of 2006. In addition to her written works, she holds numerous certifications in the animal disaster field from groups such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). She has also worked with many of the nation's animal disaster rescue groups.

"In any disaster, people should evacuate with their animals. If a situation is unsafe for humans it is unsafe for animals." Guerrero continued. "Animals are not usually allowed in human emergency shelters due to health precautions and limited space. Contacting local animal shelters and other animal service agencies in advance of a disaster is a critical preparedness step. People prepare can eliminate additional stress simply by checking on what networks are established locally, with other counties, and with the national animal rescue groups-and by learning how they can obtain assistance from the network."

Her animal disaster booklet, now in the seventh edition, offers tips to prepare prior to a disaster, how to form or get involved in a animal disaster preparedness network, and what items to include in kits for dogs, cats, horses, and birds. Guerrero also includes tip sheets for behavior, identification, health, diet, and sanitation for multiple species during a disaster.

The booklet ends with a section on post disaster animal behavior and list valuable resources for the pet owner including animal disaster agencies, where to get training, and suppliers of kits and equipment.

Guerrero's hurricane hints are:

  • Take your animals with you! Pets that are released or left behind often become victims of starvation, predators, contaminated food or water, accidents, or exposure to the elements.
  • Make sure animals have ID tags on them. Three weeks of supplies is not excessive for humans or pets.
  • Proof of current vaccinations will be required for housing animals in many facilities. Make sure you have copies stored in a waterproof container with other supplies so you don't forget to take them.
  • Maintain current photos of your property and animals.
  • Make sure you have a plan that is effective during the times when you are separated from your pets. During the Hurricane Watch period (24-36 hour threat of hurricane conditions) keep tabs on local hurricane progress reports, double check your pet's emergency supplies and load them, and make sure you have your evacuation vehicles fueled and in working order.
  • Anchor outside objects that cannot be brought inside to avoid injury to animals, humans, or property.
  • Flood conditions or storm surges are threats to animals. Provide a way for them to escape and climb to safety.
  • Use wire crates to transport and house smaller animals since they provide better ventilation and fold up easily for storage and transport.
  • Provide shade along with water for animals. If an animal does not eat initially, don't worry too much--stressed animals often avoid food.
  • Return home only after authorities advise that it is safe to return.
  • Use caution when returning home and walking on higher ground since insects, snakes, and other animals may have found refuge there.
  • Hurricane winds can extend inland for hundreds of miles and can trigger tornados, flooding, landslides, and storm surges. Keep alert and pay attention to warnings.

About the columnist: Since 1978 Diana L. Guerrero has worked professionally with both wild and domestic animals. Guerrero has been affiliated with, and certified by, a variety of animal programs in the USA and Europe. Based in California, she writes, consults, and speaks. Information on her animal career programs, training courses, and her books {What Animals Can Teach Us about Spirituality (SkyLight Paths, 2003), Blessing of the Animals (Sterling, 2007), Help! My Pet is Driving Me Crazy (Guerrero Ink, 2007), Animal Disaster Preparedness for Pet Owners & Pet Professionals (Guerrero Ink, 2007)} can be found in this web site and in the shop. Questions for Guerrero should be submitted via the blog comments or membership forum. Hurricane Preparedness Website

National Hurricane Week

National Hurricane Center

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

American Red Cross

American Humane Association

Humane Society of the US

United Animal Nations

Emergency Email & Wireless Network

Disaster News


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