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Every year, natural disasters challenge the lives of many, including those of animals. The truth is, most people are not prepared for the arrival of a disaster, and once it strikes, they tend to get into panic mode and unknowingly neglect the presence of their pets, while trying to save their own lives. Discovery News reported that the occurrence of hurricanes have resulted in the death and misplacement of many animals. According to statistics, Hurricane Floyd resulted in the death of three million pets and farm animals in 1999.
In order to avoid such tragedy, people should take precautions and prep their pets for a disaster. Global Animal compiled a to do list for disaster preparation, which states:
- Make sure your pet has received necessary vaccinations.
- Attach an identification tag to your pet’s collar.
- Have your pet micro-chipped.
- Make sure people know a pet is in the house. Making signs indicating the number and types of pets, present cues to your neighbors to call for help and notify rescue teams to save your pets should you be out when an emergency occurs.
Unfortunately, not only pets and animal companions are harmed by natural catastrophes; according to Samantha Ellis of Global Animal, Japan’s tsunami of 2011 led to the death of “tens of thousands of coastal birds.” Wild animals mainly rely on their natural habitat to supply food and shelter. However, the occurrence of a natural disaster can damage massive areas indiscriminately, leaving inadequate food supplies and thus, triggering more competition among animals for survival.
Furthermore, in such events, the safety of a farmer’s livestock is mainly dependent on his/her instincts on whether or not he/she should relocate the animals. It has been reported that many animals left indoors have died during earthquakes and cyclones by asphyxiation after failing to free themselves from enclosures. Thus, a decision to leave livestock indoors or release them to the outdoors is vital for their survival. David W. Smith of AgriLife Extension provided some tips on how farmers should prepare their farms for disasters:
- Establish escape routes for cows, horses, sheep and other livestock to higher elevation in case of flooding.
- Drive large animals out of barns that may be flooded. They will often seek shelter in barns by themselves in emergency situations.
- Make sure livestock have a good source of food and water.
- Move hay, machinery, fuels, pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals out of flood-prone areas.
- Turn off electrical power to machines, barns, and other structures that may become damaged or flooded.
- Secure loose items, such as lumber, logs, pipes, machinery parts, and tools.