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photo (c) Bob Epstein , FEMA ; Northridge Earthquake '94

Part of PAWS work , is a global warning , on how to protect your pets in the event of a disaster. Tornadoes , floods , hurricanes and fires , can all come unexpected , it's best to be prepared , for you , and your pets.

PAWS also wants to raise awarness of household harms to your pets , it's safer to always be alert.

BEFORE :

After deciding on a safe location for your family and pets , here are a few things you should have handy :

*Carries for each cat you own , seperate carries , if you have rabbits , ferrets , exc.
*Leashes , strong durable ones

Make sure you have an extra bag of pet food , and jugs of water stored in your storm cellar , or basement. Also make sure your cats and other pets are ajusted to the carriers , also provide them with their favorite treats and toy , to keep stress levels down on their behalf. Make sure all large dogs collars are on tight enough that they cannot come off , but loose enough for the animal to breathe. And check to make sure all carriers are locked. In the event of a disaster , a pets first instict is to run into the open , where it feels safer. Don't forget to keep any medications your pet might be on , handy.

DURING :

Bring all your pets inside immedently. Animals have instincts about severe weather changes , so bring them in early to prevent them from running away. NEVER leave a pet outside ,or tied up during a storm.(See above for emergency kits.)

AFTER :

If after a disaster for any reason you have to leave home ; take your pets with you , they are unlikely to survive on their own , NEVER leave them behind unattended.

In the first few days after the diaster , leash your pets when they go outside ; always maintain close contact.
Familiar scents and landmarks may become altered and your pet may become confused or lost. Also , snakes and other dangerous animals may be brought into the area ; in the event of a flood. Downed power lines are a hazard.

DISASTER PLANNING TIPS : (Provided by the HSUS)

* For public health reasons , many emergency shelters cannot except pets. Find out which hotels and motels in your area allow pets - well in advance of needing them.

* Make sure identification tags are up to date and securely fastened to your pets collar. If possible attach the address / and or phone number of your evacuation site. If your pet gets lost ; his tag is his ticket home. Make sure you have a current photo of your pet for identification purposes.

* Make sure you have a secure carrier , leash or harness for your pet , so that if he panics , he cant escape.

* Take petfood , bottled water , medications , veterinary records , cat litter/pan , can opener , food dishes , first aid kit , and other supplies with you , incase their not avalible later. While the sun is still shining consider packing a 'pet survival kit' , which could easly be deployed if disaster hits.

In the event of a hurricane :

*PAWS Offers a "If disaster strikes.." Window sticker , as well as a disaster planning check list.

Protecting Your Pets At Home

*Antifreeze - the types containing ethylene glycol have a sweet taste that attracts animals , but are deadly when consumed , even in small quanities ; one teaspoon can kill a seven pound cat.

*Cedar and other soft wood shavings , including pine may be dangerous to small mammals including hamsters and gerbils.

*Chocolate is poisonous to dogs , cats and ferrets.

*Fumes from non-stick cooking sufaces and self cleaning ovens , may be deadly to birds. Always be catious when using any pump or aerosol spray around birds.

*Human medications. Painkillers (including asprin , acetaminophen and ibuprofen) cold medications, anit-cancer drugs , anit-depressants , vitamins and diet pills can all be toxic to animals. Keep medications and tubes of ointments and creams away from pets who could chew through them.

*Posionous household plants: azalea , geraniums , dumb cane , mistletoe ,and pointsettia , among others. Click here for a full list of plants toxic to animals.
There are many common household products that could cause injury to your animal , it's best to be prepared and alerted of these items , to protect your pet.

*String , yarn , rubberbands and even dental floss ,are easy to swallow and can cause intestinal blockages.

*Toys with removable parts , like squeaky toys and stuffed animals with plastic eyes. Things that come apart are a choking hazard to animals. Take the same percautions , you would with a child.

HOLIDAY SAFETY TIPS FOR YOUR PETS -

*Christmas tree's and pine needles : If you have a large dog or a tree climbing cat use a strong cord or rope to secure the top of the tree to a wall. Ingested pine needles can puncture your pets intestines. Clean around your holiday tree's and wreaths often. Drinking the water from the christmas tree base is enough to cause diarrhea , mouth soars , vomiting and loss of appetite. Cover your tree stand tightly with skirting and distract your pets from tree temptations with holiday treats and toys.

*Candy : Like you pets can suffer from eating to much of it , and beware of chocolaite which is poisonous to dogs and cats , and can be fatal.

*Juice from holiday plants are toxic enough to cause serious harm including death to your pets. Vomiting , frothing , depression and muscle twiching are all signs of plant posioning.

*Ornaments : Breakable tree ornaments , angel hair , tinsel icicles and ribbons should be kept out of your pets reach. Ornaments , hooks , ribbons and rubber bands can all be safety hazards. They can be ingested and swallowed , causing serious and possible fatal digestive problems.

*NEVER give ham , steak or poultry bones to your pet. Choking , vomiting , and diarrhea can all be caused by this. Meat in general is harmful to your pets , and can cause the same reactions.