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Keep Pets Safe During Weather Emergencies

Even if your pets followed weather bulletins, they wouldn't know what to do when a hurricane like Irene barrels in. So, as pack leader, here are some strategies you can use to keep them safe during the storm:

Pet behavior therapist and trainer Jody Rosengarten says even if you don't need to evacuate your home there are steps you can take to make sure your pets feel safe and secure while the weather rages outdoors: "Keep your routine as intact as possible while (trying to) get a handle on your own anxiety. A tired dog is less apt to be an anxious one," she says. If you can take your dog to the park for an extra-long walk ahead of the storm, you'll all be better off.

If you do have to evacuate your home, the ASPCA offers additional suggestions for keeping your pet safe during such an emergency:

Make sure your pets are up to date on all vaccinations: before there is a need to evacuate, keep in mind that pets being boarded at shelters will need proof of vaccinations.

Think about where your pets could stay in the event of an evacuation: are there friends or family not in the path of the storm that could take them? Check with your veterinarian to determine which local shelters might board animals during an emergency.

Have current photos of all pets in case they get lost during the storm. Make sure they are wearing a collar that has all of their current identification on it.

Prepare an emergency pet supply kit so it will be ready to go if you are. The kit should contain a pet carrier for each animal, identification, immunization records, medication, supply of food and water, a muzzle, collar and leash. Mark all of the supplies with your pets' identification information.

When severe weather threatens, bring your pets inside well before the storm begins.

Once the storm has passed, remember that your pets' surroundings may have been changed by the storm. Familiar scents and landmarks may no longer be there. The pet can easily become confused or lost.

You should walk all pets on a leash until they are able to reorient themselves. This will also help keep them safe from hazards such as downed power lines and debris.

If your pet becomes lost during the storm, call your local animal control office for information on where lost pets can be claimed. Bring your pet's photo with you for easier identification.

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