Each year, devastating disasters, including tornadoes and hazardous material spills, force individuals to evacuate their homes. Now, with the increased threat of a terrorist attack, pet owners have one more thing to worry about.
Pets will have the best chance of survival if pet owners prepare in advance. Passing on the following tips to your clients can help.
- Educate yourself about common agents that a terrorist might use and their effects on animals by visiting the Maryland Department of Agriculture at www.mda.state.md.us/vet/animlimp.pdf and reading "Bioterrorism Agents: Implications for Animals." If you observe any unusual signs in your pets, or suspect a disease outbreak, contact your local public health department. Many diseases that may be shared between animals and humans, such as anthrax, and plague, may be used as bioterrorism agents.
- Obtain a copy of the disaster preparedness booklet titled "Saving the Whole Family" from the AVMA or your veterinarian. The booklet has numerous suggestions, including permanently identifying an animal, using a method such as microchipping, and preparing an animal evacuation kit that contains, among other things, copies of an animal's vaccination history and medical records, a two-week supply of food and water, and an emergency contact list. Contact the AVMA for a single free copy at (800) 248-2862.