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Make sure your pet is wearing a collar and ID tag.

Published 4th August 2014, 1:44pm

The Cayman Islands is threatened by a wide range of hazards, including some of the obvious ones like hurricanes, earthquakes and floods. If you believe your home is vulnerable then it is imperative that you make preparations in advance to evacuate. The single most important thing you can do to protect your pets is to take them with you. If it’s not safe for you to stay in the disaster area, then it’s not safe for your animals. Pets that are left behind in a disaster can be injured, lost, or killed. If they are left inside your home, they may escape through storm-damaged areas, such as broken windows.

Government shelters do not accept pets, so you must plan ahead to ensure that your family and pets will have a safe place to stay. Currently the Department of Agriculture and the Humane Society do not have space to shelter pets and these facilities are already stretched to their limits. Don’t wait until you are facing the imminent threat of disaster to make your arrangements. Check with friends and relatives and ask if they would be able to shelter you and your pets or just your pets, if necessary. Make a list of boarding facilities and veterinary offices that might be able to shelter animals in emergencies; include 24-hour telephone numbers.

Make sure your pet is wearing collars and ID tags with up-to-date identification including a phone number. This is the perfect time to have your pet micro-chipped if you have not already done so. If your family and pets must wait out a storm or other disaster at home, identify a safe area of your home where you can all stay together. Keep dogs on leashes and cats in carriers. Have any medications and a supply of pet food and water inside watertight containers, along with your other emergency supplies.

Every member of your family should know what he or she needs to take when you evacuate. You also should prepare supplies for your pets. Stock up on nonperishables well ahead of time, add perishable items at the last minute, and have everything ready to go at a moment’s notice. Keep everything accessible, stored in sturdy containers (duffel bags, covered trash containers, etc.) that can be carried easily.

In your disaster kit, you should include:

• Medications and medical records stored in a waterproof container and a first aid kit.

• 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 comfortably, turn around, and lie down. Your pet may have to stay in the carrier for hours at a time while you have taken shelter away from home.

• You may also need blankets or towels for bedding and warmth, and other special items.

• 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.

• Food and water for at least three days for each pet, bowls, cat litter and litter box, and a manual can opener.

• Information on 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.

• Pet beds and toys to reduce stress, other useful items include newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags, grooming items, and household bleach.