American Red Cross Urges Animal Owners to Have Pet Preparedness Plan in Place

June is Pet Preparedness Month

DULUTH, Minn. – If a natural disaster were to occur, or a fire broke out in your home, would you have a plan of action?

Toss the family pets into the mix, and things can get stressful during the most critical time of evacuation. That’s why the Northern Minnesota Chapter of the American Red Cross is urging pet owners to plan during this national Pet Preparedness Month.

“We’ve had people who have had a house fire, lost everything, and came to us holding their pet with no leash, no dog food, nothing for their pets,” said Dan Williams, executive director of the Northern Minnesota Chapter of American Red Cross.

Williams says in recent years, the organization, which was founded in 1881, has relaxed its views on helping animals in situations of natural disasters and house fires.

Historically, the Red Cross has only lent a helping hand to humans, but they found without pets in the plan, people wouldn’t evacuate or leave their homes in dire situations.

“If people aren’t able to take their pets with if they evacuate, they often won’t evacuate, putting them and their pets in much more danger,” said Williams. “Pets are a vital part in people’s disaster preparedness plan, but also how they evacuate.”

Williams stresses the importance of including your pets in a disaster preparedness plan.

This should include how you’re going to evacuate, and who can take care of your animals if you’re out of your home for an extended period.

“Pet preparedness is two things. One is how to make sure you have a plan if you need to evacuate, but also a preparedness plan in your home. If there’s a house fire, how are you going to safely escape from your home, the importance of having smoke detectors, so you have time to get you and your pets out safely,” said Williams.

The Northern Minnesota Chapter of the American Red Cross has helped install thousands of smoke alarms in homes across the Northland. Williams reminds residents, aside from changing the batteries every six months, these devices do expire after ten years.

“With only a couple minutes to get out of a house fire from when it starts, the importance of early notifications, so carbon monoxide detectors, smoke detectors, allow people to get out of the house. One of the important things about fires is, when you get out of the house, don’t go back in,” said Williams.

It’s also important to make sure your pets are comfortable with a travel kennel in case of an emergency.

Aside from urging the public to come up with a preparedness plan, the American Red Cross wants pet owners to download their free Pet First Aid App. It’s a great resource for medical issues, and also shares a list of emergency vets in the area.

Click here for more information.

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