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How to keep your pets safe as Hurricane Florence approaches

RICHMOND, Va. — As Hurricane Florence, now a Category 4 storm, approaches the east coast, animal advocates are reminding pet owners how to keep their animals safe.

While the track of Hurricane Florence is unclear, the majority of forecast models indicate significant potential impacts to Virginia in the form of coastal storm surge, catastrophic inland flooding, high winds and possible widespread power outages, according to state officials.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is urging pet owners to include their pets in their hurricane preparedness plans.

The ASPCA says they assisted more than 37,000 animals displaced by disasters in 2017.

The nonprofit organization recommends pet owners take their animals with them if they are evacuated.

“We know that pet owners are less likely to evacuate if they are unable to bring their pets with them,” said an ASPCA spokesperson. “This is why the ASPCA strongly urges pet owners develop plans for their pets in advance, so they are more prepared to bring their pets with them if they are forced to evacuate.”

Pet owners are also encouraged to create a portable pet emergency kit.

That kit should include medical records, water, water bowls, your pet’s medications, and enough pet food to last at least five days.

Experts also recommend bringing a separate travel crate for each animal.

Here are some additional preparedness tips for pets from the ASPCA:

  • If you evacuate, take your pets with you. Never leave your pets behind or tether them to poles or trees, which prevents them from escaping high waters and getting to safe areas.
  • Make sure all pets are wearing ID tags with up-to-date contact information. The ASPCA also recommends micro-chipping your pet as a more permanent form of identification, should collars or tags become lost.
  • Choose a designated caregiver, such as a friend or relative outside the evacuation zone, who can take care of your pet in the event you are unable.
  • Download the free ASPCA mobile app, which allows pet owners to store crucial pet records needed for boarding pets at evacuation shelters. It includes a disaster preparedness checklist.
  • Prepare your pet for an evacuation: Because disaster situations are stressful, animals may become skittish, which increases the likelihood they will escape and get lost. To prepare your pet for a potential evacuation, get them comfortable with a travel carrier in advance:
  • You can help your pets develop a positive association with the crate by providing treats and playtime at the conclusion of crate time.
  • Try carrying your pets around the house in the crate or taking a short drive.
  • Prepare your pets by gradually acclimating them to their crates. First, place their food inside an open crate, and eventually have them eat their meals in the crate with the door shut.

Depend on CBS 6 News and WTVR.com for complete coverage of Florence. Click here to track the storm with the CBS 6 Interactive Hurricane Tracker

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