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What pet owners need to know in an emergency

Making sure your pets are safe

Posted: August 7, 2008 6:51 p.m.
Updated: October 9, 2008 5:01 a.m.

Los Angeles disasters strike at any time, don't get caught unprepared. The Santa Clarita Valley was recently rattled by the Chino Hills earthquake. When a disaster strikes a community, essential services are often unavailable and precautions should be taken for the entire family including the safety of pets.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA) strongly recommends pet owners prepare for an emergency by following simple guidelines to ensure their pet's safety in the event of an urgent situation or natural disaster.

"Pets depend on us for their safety, food, water and more," said Madeline Bernstein, spcaLA President.

"With the earthquake that just occurred, it is important to have a disaster plan in place to ensure all members of the family are accounted for properly and it only takes a little advance preparation."

The following are the most important things pet owner can do to prepare their pets for an emergency:

n Make sure there is a supply of canned/dry pet food and bottled water with other emergency provisions including pet prescription and medicine.

If roads are blocked due to a natural disaster, professional help may not be possible immediately so familiarize yourself and other family members with pet CPR, resuscitation and general first aid procedures. Your quick action could save your pet's life.

Try not to display stress and anxiety when dealing with pets. Most animals are very aware of their owner's emotions and can read your stress. This can cause otherwise calm pets to display aggressive behavior.

After a fire or disaster, check pet structures and favorite hiding places for hazardous debris.

Ask your local fire department, animal shelter or veterinarian for a "Pet Alert" sign for doors and windows. If none are available, make your own by listing your pets on 3X5 card and display it prominently. This alerts emergency teams there may be pets that need assistance.

Dogs and cats should wear I.D. tags with current address and/or phone number at all times. This will make it easier for you and your pet to be reunited if separated.

Keep up-to-date on your pet's vaccinations. Pets may become disoriented and stray, or housed in shelters with other animals, thereby potentially becoming exposed to infectious diseases.

Alert local shelters immediately upon discovering that your pet is missing.

For more information, contact spcaLA at 1(888) spcaLA-1 or visit


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