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For many of us, our pets are like our family. And just like family, we like to do all we can to keep them healthy and safe. In this time of uncertainty, we shouldn't forget our pets when it comes to what to do in an emergency, should we have one.

That's exactly the message being put out by area shelters - Pima Animal Care Center, the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, and The Hermitage No-Kill Cat Shelter.

They suggest having a plan for an emergency (which isn't a bad idea to have whether there's a pandemic or not) so that your beloved pet doesn't end up in a shelter, scared and alone.

The following are the three biggest tips on how to have an Emergency Plan for your pets:

1. Find a temporary caregiver in case you are hospitalized. The best place for your pet is in their home, but if you become too ill to care for your pet, make sure there is a friend or family member who can take your pet into their home. It would be best if the pet knows that person and likes that person, however, most any home is better than the stressful environment of a shelter. You can also contact pet-sitters and boarding facilities. Many boarding facilities have availability because people are not traveling and do not need to utilize boarding services.
2. Put together an “emergency supply kit.” This should include:
  • Name and contact information for the person who can care for your pets
  • Name and contact information for your back-up in case your go-to is no longer able to help
  • Food, treats, a leash, toys and any other supplies necessary to care for your pet for at least two weeks
  • A crate or carrier to transport your pet
  • Vaccination records
  • Collar with ID tags (don’t forget to make sure their microchip information is up to date)
  • Medications and prescriptions, along with instructions
  • Daily care instructions
  • Your veterinarian's contact information
3. According to the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, there is currently no evidence that people can get COVID-19 from pets. The best place for your pet is in the home they know and love. If you aren’t feeling well but are still able to provide care for your pet, please keep them at home where they feel most comfortable.

Not only does this help you and your pets, but it's also a huge relief on the shelters. They go on to say this:

Keeping area shelters free of long-term care animals allows them to be better prepared for the onset of kitten season as well as the ongoing need to respond to cruelty, neglect and other animals who are in immediate danger or have emergency needs.

Some other important things to note during this time: shelters have changed their day-to-day operations. Be sure to read up on their websites and social media accounts to stay on top of the ever-changing situation.

There are several ways you can help our local shelters. Ensure that our shelters have critical supplies for fostering, overflow vet care, and community support like emergency boarding for owned pets by making a secure monetary gift to The Humane Society of Southern Arizona, Friends of Pima Animal Care Center, and The Hermitage No-Kill Cat Shelter and Sanctuary.

For information about local impacts of coronavirus on humans and guidance for keeping yourself and others healthy, please follow the dedicated page on the Pima County Health Department website: www.pima.gov/covid19

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