Protect Your Pets

The US House of Representatives recently passed a bill requiring local and state emergency officials to include the well being of pets in their emergency preparedness plans. A similar bill has been introduced in the Senate. Houston Public Radio's Rod Rice reports that even if those bills become law, pet owners should have their own plan to protect their pets.

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Among the images from Hurricane Katrina are those of people who could not take their pets with them as they fled the approaching storm and those who did not evacuate for just that reason. The results are the bills now moving through Congress and an effort by Washington to encourage us to do more planning for getting pets out of harm's way.

"Whether or not there's legislation, and that's important, everyone needs to take the responsibility for their pets individually."

Warren Eckstein is an animal expert and host of "The Pet Show". He's been working with the US Department of Homeland Security's "Ready Campaign". Kristin Gossel is the director of the "Ready Campaign."

"The Department of Homeland Security joined together with the Humane Society, the American Kennel Club, the ASPCA, and the American Veterinary Medical Association to produce a new brochure for the "Ready Campaign" for pet owners."

Eckstein says you need to have more than just food and water on hand. He says every pet owner needs an emergency kit for their pets that includes three days worth of food and water in air tight containers...

"...medicine, medical records, first aid kit, collar, ID tag, microchip with several phone numbers on them of people that don't live in the area, a current photograph on you and your pet..."

And you need a plan before an emergency arises. Eckstein says you should know what boarding options there are, what kennels or humane societies will accept pets, what evacuation locations will accept them? Is there a relative or friend out of the area who on short notice will take your pets?

"If you put all those pieces together and the evacuation order does come down, you'll be prepared which is going to make it a lot easier for yourself and your pet as well."

Eckstein says just as emergency officials hold practice drills he does too. He'll declare an emergency and gather up his pet kit, get the dogs in their kennels and into the car and take off for a drive. If a real emergency ever requires it, the dogs will be used to a quick get-away and not be as stressed by the experience. He also says mirco-chipping has come a long way and it's something every pet owner should do.

"Year's ago micro-chipping did have its problem. A lot of the humane societies and shelters had different wands and the wands would not pick up on all the information that every manufacturer had."

Warren Eckstein says now that is not the problem is was and most shelters and humane societies have wands that can retrieve all the information that will get a lost pet back with it's owner. If you'd like to download the brochure the "Ready Campaign" has put together, go to k-u-h-f-dot-org for a link.

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