AVMA Urges Americans to Include Pets in Home Security Plan

As Americans scramble to sort out government recommendations for personal and family preparedness in the event of a possible terrorist attack, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) urges animal owners to remember their pets as they make contingency plans.

“In times of crisis, pets are a source of emotional support, stability, and comfort,” said Dr. Joe M. Howell, AVMA President. “It is important that as Americans take precautions for themselves that they stop to think about how they can protect the animals they care for in the event or a terrorist attack or a disaster.”

The AVMA developed a “Disaster Preparedness Series” to provide tools needed to prepare for any disaster. “Saving the Whole Family” a 14-page booklet geared to the general public provides detailed information on caring for both small and large animals in the event of natural or man-made crisis. This resource provides checklists for disaster plans. Suggestions include:

  • List of important emergency contacts (veterinarian, boarding facilities, humane societies, USDA Missing Pet Network, etc.)
  • Veterinary records
  • Proof of ownership
  • Identification
  • Transportation/Housing
  • Evacuation or Survival Kits (2-week supply of food, 2-week supply of water in plastic gallon jugs, batteries, medications, etc.)
  • First Aid Kit (consult your veterinarian when developing the first aid kit)

“Remember, you are much more likely to be affected by an evacuation order due to a hazardous material spill from a vehicle on a road near you or a passing train, than you are from a chemical or biological attack,” said Dr. Howell. “The preparation for disaster, whether by nature or terrorism is much the same.”

Dr. Sebastian E. Heath, veterinarian, consultant, author, and researcher conducted epidemiological studies of various disasters and the evacuation response. Study results estimate that:

  • 25% of the nation’s 58.3% of households that own at least one pet will not evacuate due to pets;
  • Between 50% to 70% of households leaving pets behind will attempt to later rescue their pets; and
  • Homes with children may evacuate early, but return to attempt rescuing their pets previously left behind.

“If every family is adequately educated and prepared to take care of all the animals that they own, human lives will be saved,” said Dr. Howell. He explained that many life-threatening situations are created as disaster responders try to save either the animals or their owners that have become victims themselves trying to save their pets.

For additional information on disaster preparedness or survival visit the AVMA disaster information page at www.avma.org/disaster or contact sgranskog@avma.org.


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