September marks the 11th year of National Preparedness Month, sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

When people prepare for a medical or other emergency, they should consider the safety of themselves and their family, including pets.

In 2013, 62.9 percent of Mainers owned pets, according to an American Veterinary Medical Association survey. Several years ago, Crisis & Counseling Centers’ Community Advisory Committee noticed a need for education and resources to help people ensure their pets remain safe during a crisis.

The committee founded the Animal Wellness Awareness Resource Education project because we understand that pets often are considered important members of the family whose deep reservoirs of understanding and loyalty help show us that we are loved.

During National Preparedness Month, it’s important to remember that emergencies come in all shapes and sizes, including medical and emotional crises, fires and natural disasters.

People should think about all of their pets — including dogs, cats, birds and even farm animals — as they prepare for the unexpected. The last thing people want to worry about in a crisis is whether their pets are in good hands.

People should consider creating a buddy system to ensure that their pets always have the care they need. They should discuss with a trusted person where pets will stay during an emergency, and share veterinary information and food and medication requirements.

For more advice about planning for pet safety in an emergency, visit crisisandcounseling.org.

Joe Kane, Augusta

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