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2015-06-04

Protecting animals before a disaster

Contributed

With the rain, flooding and tornados across the state, administrators with the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) remind Texans to take appropriate steps to prepare your livestock, poultry and pets before disaster strikes.
All animals are vulnerable to issues associated with torrential rains and floods. Such events can easily impact both animal and human health. Proper planning and preparedness are key in preventing or minimizing the loss of livestock and pets. Stay informed and protect livestock and pets against potential severe weather threats.
Make plans for livestock and pets in case evacuation of a home or ranch becomes necessary. Disasters often displace animals left behind so it is imperative to have a way to identify animals. Ear tags, microchips, brands, contact information attached to halters or collars, and pictures are good ways to prove ownership after a disaster.
In addition to a personal disaster kit, put together supplies that may be needed for livestock and pets.
A livestock or pet disaster kit may include:
• A waterproof container in which to store feed and equipment
• One-week supply of feed and water
• Copies of veterinary records, breed registry and any paperwork proving ownership
• Emergency contact list
• First aid kit and detailed diet and medication instructions
• Maps of local area with possible evacuation routes
The state's lead agency for all animal issues during disasters, the TAHC coordinates planning and training activities with local jurisdictions, state and federal agencies, industry partners and non-governmental organizations, ensuring the state's livestock and poultry industries, and companion, service and assistive animal owners are prepared.
The TAHC also assists local jurisdictions with response issues like conducting animal search and rescue operations, animal identification and damage assessments; addressing animal care, evacuation and sheltering; and coordinating carcass disposal activities through partnerships with stakeholders like the veterinary community, other state agencies and industry groups.
In addition, the commission offers specialized response capabilities like the Horseback Emergency Response Team.
For more information on protect livestock during a disaster, the brochure, "Protecting Livestock When Disaster Strikes" is available at http://www.tahc.state.tx.us/news/brochures/TAHCBrochure_EmergencyManagement.pdf.
Other helpful sites on protecting companion, service, and assistive animals include http://texasprepares.org/English/family_pets.shtml, http://www.prep4agthreats.org/ and http://www.ready.gov/caring-animals.