September is National Preparedness Month

Central Veterinary Associates is reminding pet owners that September is National Preparedness Month and that it is just as important to protect their pets during a natural catastrophic event as they would their loved ones. One of the most vulnerable populations is pets, who are often forgotten in the chaos of natural disasters. In order to ensure the well-being of their pets, it is necessary for pet owners to formulate a plan before disaster strikes.

This year marks a decade of National Preparedness Month, sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The U.S. Department of Homeland Security – which oversees FEMA – seeks to educate the public about how to prepare for emergencies, including natural disasters, mass casualties, biological and chemical threats, radiation emergencies and terrorist attacks.

In May 2013, Central Veterinary Associates took in Midnight, a Chesapeake Bay retriever mix that was found wandering a storm-ravaged area near Brooklyn right after Hurricane Sandy hit. The dog was quarantined and vetted at Central Vets before being transported to Save-A-Pet by members of Guardians of Rescue.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a more active hurricane season than last year. The agency’s Atlantic Season Outlook says there is a 70% chance of 13 to 20 named storms (winds of 39 miles per hour or above), of which seven to eleven could become hurricanes (winds of 74 miles per hour or higher), including three to six major hurricanes (Category 4, 5 or 6 with winds of 111 miles per hour or higher).

This means that, after being hit hard by Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Hurricane Sandy last year, Long Island and the metropolitan New York area may see more powerful storms and more damage than before. While it is important to make sure other family members are cared for during a natural disaster, it is equally important that pets are taken care of. Central Veterinary Associates offers the following tips:

  • Make any and all preparations before disaster strikes. Make sure it includes a plan for pets as well as family members. Find out in advance which shelters accept animals. If necessary, make advance reservations at a pet-friendly hotel or motel.
  • Make sure your pet is up-to-date with vaccinations. Keep copies of your pet’s vaccination records with your pet’s belongings. Also keep any pictures or identification in a folder or sleeve where water cannot enter into it.
  • Be sure your pet is wearing a collar with identification tags. The tags should have the pet’s name and your contact information.
  • If you have not done so, have your pet microchipped. This makes it easier to track your pet in the event it gets lost or separated from you. (Midnight was not microchipped.)
  • Pack at least a 5-7 day supply of pet food and bottled water and a 2-week supply of medications with dosage instructions. Be sure to include a manual can opener in case there is no power, as well as food and water bowls.
  • Be sure to include the following as well: an extra collar, leash or harness; a muzzle for dogs who may bite out of fear; a litter box, litter and a scoop (for cats); a cage carrier for smaller animals; comfort items, such as bedding, toys or pet treats; Latex gloves for handling waste; blankets or sheets to cover the cages; and a first-aid kit.

“It is important that pets are kept safe during what is expected to be a catastrophic natural event this weekend,” said CVA President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. John Charos. “Losing or being separated from your pet when disaster strikes can be heartbreaking. If you are unable to find your pet during the aftermath, be sure to contact your local shelter or emergency center.”

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