Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and with the help of a coalition of 2,700 organizations across the country, National Preparedness Month is a nationwide effort to encourage Americans to take simple steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses and schools.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), a coalition member, reminds people that pets should be a part of every evacuation plan.

"Planning ahead and practicing an evacuation plan is critical to ensuring the lives and safety of people and animals," says Dr. Heather Case, AVMA Assistant Director, Scientific Activities Division and Coordinator for Emergency Preparedness and Response. "The successful evacuation for Hurricane Gustav highlighted the significant progress Louisiana has made since Katrina, not only through ongoing planning but also through practicing their plans before the emergency."

Dr. Case explains that the disaster plan for Hurricane Gustav was swift and appropriate, which saves lives. This year, when families evacuated southern Louisiana and Mississippi ahead of Gustav, most people included their family pets in their evacuation plans. Furthermore, an emergency shelter for pets was set up ahead of time by the state of Louisiana in Shreveport, La.

Disaster Preparedness Month also reminds Americans that it's their civic responsibility to prepare for a disaster, and that includes creating and practicing disaster plans. To help in these efforts, the AVMA is promoting its Disaster Preparedness Series to help veterinarians, pet owners and others address animal and human well-being during and after a disaster.

The AVMA Disaster Preparedness Series consists of the following:

*AVMA Disaster Preparedness and Response Guide: This guide contains 500 pages of disaster planning information, including templates for writing detailed animal disaster annexes to county and state emergency operations plans. This guide is a resource designed for veterinarians, veterinary technicians, emergency managers and others interested in local and state planning for veterinary and animal disaster issues.

*Saving the Whole Family: Designed for veterinarians, this booklet provides detailed information on disaster planning for both small and large animals. Veterinarians are encouraged to share this booklet and its resources with clients, staff and the community.

*Disaster Preparedness for Veterinary Practices: Another resource for veterinarians, this brochure prepares veterinarians for continuing their practices in the aftermath of a disaster.

For more information on the series, visit avma/disaster. For additional information on disaster preparedness, visit ready.

The AVMA and its more than 76,000 member veterinarians are engaged in a wide variety of activities dedicated to advancing the science and art of animal, human and public health. Visit the AVMA Web site at www.avma for more information.

American Veterinary Medical Association

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