A few weeks ago, I wrote about the need for Congress to modify the Controlled Substances Act to allow veterinarians to transport and dispense medications like euthanasia solution, anesthetics, and some types of pain relievers at locations other than the one listed on their Drug Enforcement Agency licenses. Many of you responded by contacting your congressperson in support of pending House legislation. Thank you! Now I’m asking for your help again.

U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) and Angus King (I-Maine) have introduced companion legislation in the Senate called the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act (S. 950). Once again the AVMA has provided a simple way to compose an e-mail or printed letter and send it off, this time to your Senators. Simply input your zip code and you’ll be taken to the appropriate form. You can then modify the letter in any way you want since the one provided is written from the viewpoint of a veterinary professional.

The devastating tornado that recently hit Moore, OK highlights the need for this legislation. The veterinarians who rushed to aid injured animals in temporary settings or clinics where they were not registered with the DEA were breaking the law when they needed to anesthetize, euthanize, or treat severe pain in their patients. Veterinarians who volunteer their services under circumstances like these should not be forced to break the law.

The tornado in Moore should also remind us to include our animals in our plans for responding to all types of emergencies.

During evacuations, do your best to take your animals with you. Leaving them behind puts them in extreme danger. If you have time before evacuating, pack a bag with a few days worth of food, water, bowls or buckets for food and drink, an ample supply of medications, and for cats a portable litter box (a small cookie sheet will do in a pinch) and some litter. Make sure you have leashes, collars, halters, lead ropes, and/or carriers for everyone.

Prior preparation is essential when you have to move fast. Put a checklist together so you’ll remember what you need and know of a couple of places where you can go that will welcome both you and your pets. If you don’t have the ability to transport your animals, make advanced arrangements with someone who can help.

Under some circumstances, people and pets may have to shelter in place for a period of time. Follow the three day rule put forth by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Always maintain at least a three day supply of food and water for all the people and animals in your home. A larger cache of essential medications is wise as they could be hard to come by in the chaos that follows many disasters. Keep a first aid kit well stocked with items that can be used for both people and animals.

Identification is critical in case you become separated from your pets. Update your contact information with your pet’s microchip manufacturer, on identification tags, and with municipal licensing organizations. Also, keep pictures of you with all of your pets in a safe location as additional proof of ownership.

Spring was late arriving in many parts of the country, but now that it’s here severe thunderstorms, tornados, flooding, wildfires, and hurricanes are sure to follow. Be prepared!

Dr. Jennifer Coates

Image: Army Medicine / via Flickr