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Keep Your Pets Safe

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By The Staff

Many of us are pet lovers.

Calculations using national averages supplied by the Humane Society of the United States stated there are an estimated 16,387 dogs, 17,543 cats, 3063 birds, 2,363 horses, 1,263 pocket pets and 975 reptiles in the Bedford Community. But our animals are often the last members of our families that we plan for when facing an emergency.

Mary Beverley, from the Bedford Humane Society states, “During Hurricane Katrina, 44 percent of people who stayed behind decided this because they didn’t want to leave there pets.” She explained that President Bush has signed the PETS Act legislation because of what happened during Katrina. The PETS Act focuses on keeping people, including emergency workers, and pets safe. It states that each locality must provide care for domestic pets in an emergency. The PETS Act does not include livestock, but Beverley explained that Bedford will be including them in their program, Bedford CART (Community Animal Response Team).

At present, no federal funding has been provided to implement the PETS Act. Therefore, individual communities are responsible for raising the funds to support the programs in that area. They are also responsible for developing the programs to be specific to the local area. Beverley explained that the number of emergency shelters and services would depend on the size of the city/county. Bedford CART has many different agencies involved in the planning process. This will ensure that all areas of the emergency response effort are covered. They plan on introducing Bedford CART to the public in September. This will allow them to ask for donations and get the public involved with volunteering. The full program is not set to be released until March 2009.

Beverley explained that the best way to keep your pets safe is to be prepared. She listed the Humane Society of the United States Web site (www.hsus.org) as a great resource to find emergency kits and other ideas to help keep your animals safe. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) also is a great source to find information and products of how to keep your pets safe. Their Web site is www.aspca.org. Beverley said that if you already have a plan you won’t have to rely on a shelter.

The ASPCA has many tips on its Web site to help you make a plan for your animals. They explain that it is important that you take your pets with you. This will ensure that they will not be trapped in your home or escape. Plan ahead of time where to go. Friends and family members might be able to take you in or you might have to keep your animals at a separate place. Some hotels will allow pets. Call hotels when you are making your plan to see if they have any specifications as to what types, sizes, breeds etc they will allow and if they make exceptions in emergency situations. If these options do not work, have a list of shelters available. Call to see if they except animals during emergencies. Make the shelter your last option because they are usually overcrowded.

The ASPCA Web site also has items such as animal alert stickers and first aid kits that you can purchase.

When preparing an emergency kit for your pets the ASPCA recommends that you include the following: a pet first aid kit and guide book, medications and medical records (keep them in a waterproof container), collars, leashes, harnesses, and carriers to provide safe transport and minimize the risk of your pet escaping, current photos with descriptions of your pets, food and water (and bowls) for at least three to seven days, cat litter and litter box (disposable aluminum roasting pans work well for this), can opener, feeding schedule information, veterinarian information, beds and toys. Other items that would be useful are newspapers, paper towels, trash bags, grooming items and cleaning products.

For additional information regarding pet care, you may wish to call your local Bedford Humane Society at 540-586-6100. You can also contact the Bedford Extension Office at 540-586-7675 or www.ext.vt.edu/offices/bedford.