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Video: Pet Preparedness

Posted at 3 p.m.

As part of National Preparedness Month, we need to remember our pets as part of the preparedness process. In this video, Whitney Kazragis from our emergency management office shares some tips about pet preparedness.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) offers some fantastic disaster tips along with a list of pet supplies for your emergency kit. In addition, the ASPCA will be hosting a Google+ Hangout for National Preparedness Month on Thursday, Sept. 18 at 7 p.m., bringing the biggest names in disaster response together — including FEMA and the USDA — to discuss how pet owners, cities and lawmakers can make sure pets stay safe during disasters. The ASPCA Google+ Hangout will be moderated by ABC News meteorologist Ginger Zee, and it can be viewed at

National Preparedness Month - pet preparedness

Today is National Animal Disaster Preparendess Day

Posted at 9:45 a.m.

Today is National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day. Kristen Auerbach with our Animal Shelter says pets are part of our families and we need to make sure our pets are prepared for emergencies. In this video, she offers some great tips to make sure our pets are ready in case of an emergency.


Prepare your pets for emergencies. In an emergency, you may need to stay in your home, or perhaps you’ll have to leave. If you evacuate, do not leave your pets behind. Pets most likely cannot survive on their own. Plan now where your pet will stay if you have to evacuate: a friends’ or relative’s home, a pet-friendly hotel or motel, or a kennel or veterinarian’s office.  Talk to your vet or local humane society about an emergency plan for your pet.

Ask Fairfax Online Chat at 11 a.m.

Staff from the Fairfax County Animal Shelter and our Office of Emergency Management will be available online at 11 a.m. to answer all of your questions to help you protect your pets when the unexpected happens. Submit a question now or join in the “Ask Fairfax” online chat about pet preparedness.

Pet Preparedness

There are five easy steps pet owners can take to drastically increase their pet’s resiliency to disasters:

  • Build a pet emergency kit.
  • ID your pet with a collar and tag or consider microchipping.
  • Practice evacuating in the car or determine where to shelter-in-place with your pet.
  • Create a buddy system with a relative or friend to help each other’s pets in case one of you is away from home during an emergency.
  • Download a preparedness app.

As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to protect your pet during a disaster.


Tonight Expected to be Coldest March Night in Decades; What You Need to Know

Posted 5:35 p.m.

Neighbors: Please check in on elderly or other housebound people you may know to make sure they have enough heat and food.

Hypothermia Prevention: If you see an unsheltered person who may be at risk of hypothermia, call the police non-emergency phone line at 703-691-2131, TTY 711. Fairfax County’s emergency homeless shelters have additional capacity during winter months to take in people overnight who are at risk of hypothermia. Emergency personnel will determine which shelter option is best in the situation. Learn more about our emergency shelters and hypothermia program.

Pets: Don’t forget your pets — bring pets/companion animals inside; move other animals to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.

Beware of Ice: With the cold temperatures, snow that has melted will refreeze and create hazardous icy conditions, including black ice. Drive cautiously and be careful walking outside.

Animal Shelter Providing Emergency Home for Pets in the Cold

Posted 4:45 p.m.

puppies outsideBecause the freezing temperatures predicted over the next few days may be deadly to pets, the Animal Shelter is offering temporary, emergency housing for cats, dogs and small companion animals. If you or someone you know needs to utilize this service, contact the shelter at 703-830-1100, extension 2, or call the police non-emergency number at 703-691-2131, TTY 711

For all pet owners, don’t forget your pets — bring pets/companion animals inside; move other animals to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water. Read some more tips to prepare your pets.

Deep Freeze Preparation for People, Pets and Property

Posted 10:18 a.m.

Baby, it’s going to be cold outside!

Our area is under a wind chill advisory from the National Weather Service beginning at 6 p.m. Monday until 6 p.m. Tuesday. The temperature and winds will make it feel like it’s 5 to 15 degrees below zero. Here’s what you can do to beat the freeze:

For People

  • If you see someone unsheltered in this extreme cold weather, call 703-691-2131, TTY 711. Learn more about our emergency shelters and hypothermia program.
  • Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia. If you must be outside, either for work or leisure, take precautions such as dressing in layers. Watch this short video for tips, especially for advice on when to go to a hospital:

For Pets

  • Do NOT leave pets outside!
  • Because the freezing temperatures may be deadly to pets, our animal shelter is offering temporary emergency housing for cats, dogs, and small companion animals. If you or someone you know needs to utilize this service, contact the shelter at 703-324-0208, TTY 711, or e-mail
  • We have more safety tips for pets in cold weather.

For Property

Safety tips to protect your homes from winter fires

Video: Include Your Pets In Your Family Emergency Plans

Posted at 2:45 p.m.

Pets are part of our families. So be sure to include items in your family emergency kit that your pet will need should disaster strike.


Learn more at

Preparing Makes Sense for Pet Owners

Posted at 11 a.m.

Here’s a unique instructional video from FEMA with information for pet owners and suggestions for proactive pet emergency preparedness.


Learn more about pet preparedness from
For more on animal care and health and regulations in Fairfax County, visit

Video: Summer Heat Safety Tips to Keep Kids Safe in Cars

Posted at 1 p.m.

Leaving a child or pet in an unattended vehicle is preventable. Unfortunately though, it does happen. The Kids and Cars organization reports that since 1998, an average of 38 children die every year from vehicular heat stroke.

In the video below, Lucy Caldwell of our Police Department offers some tips parents and caregivers can use to ensure that our most precious cargo — our children — are never left unattended in a vehicle again.


Related Articles

Audio: Police Offer Tips to Keep Children and Pets Safe

Posted at 3:55 p.m.

We’re focusing this week on safety for children and pets in the summer heat — specifically on ensuring that they aren’t left unattended in vehicles.

Today, Andy Wehrlen of our Police Department offers guidance on what residents can do. He notes that we’re all busy, but with a little thought and pre-planning, our most precious cargo — our children — will be safe.


Wehrlen adds, “As you’d never leave your children alone in a vehicle, never leave pets in a parked car.”


Take a few minutes today and take these action steps. Commit to “look before you lock” the doors and make sure no child or pet is left unattended in a vehicle.

Earlier articles:

Keep Pets Safe in the Heat

Posted at 2:15 p.m.

As temperatures rise this summer, the Fairfax County Animal Shelter reminds residents to keep pets safe in the heat, whether at home, at the beach or traveling.


Here’s some additional tips:

  • Never leave pets in a parked car. On a warm day, temperatures can rapidly rise to dangerous levels. If you see an animal in distress in a parked car, contact police.
  • Shade and water are vital to pets. Pet owners must provide adequate shelter protecting animals from the adverse effects of heat. A dog house in the backyard with no access to shade does not protect animals from sun.
  • Limit exercise on hot days. Take care to adjust intensity and duration of exercise. Watch for shortness of breath and remember that asphalt gets very hot and can burn paws; walk your dog on the grass if possible.
  • Recognize the symptoms of heatstroke. If your pet shows signs such as heavy panting, glazed eyes, rapid heartbeat, vomiting, fever, dizziness, restlessness, excessive thirst and profuse salivation, contact your veterinarian immediately. Take steps to reduce the animal’s body temperature; apply ice packs or cold towels to the head, neck and chest, provide water and ice cubes for hydration, and move the animal into the shade or air-conditioning.

While the temperature today is not a scorcher, it’s still hot enough if you don’t remember to look after your pets. After all, they too are part of your family.

Yesterday we provided information on heat, kids and unattended cars. Join us the remainder of the week as we’ll continue to focus on heat, children and pets.

Heat and Unattended Kids in Cars Do NOT Go Together


Leaving children and pets unattended in cars is often emphasized during hot weather, although it’s something we need to think about daily.

With temperatures in the 90s this week — and rising the rest of the summer — we’re going to focus this week on this important topic. Today, we start with some quick tips and a checklist to remind us to look before you lock your car.

The Kids and Cars organization reports that since 1998, an average of 38 children die every year from vehicular heat stroke — that’s one every 9 days. And it doesn’t just happen elsewhere. Just this past weekend a local 8-month-old baby was left in a car and died.

How Does this Happen?

There are several factors that contribute to children being inadvertently forgotten by care givers. Paramount is the fact that our brains are not keeping up with the demands of our busy lives. The most common factors include a change in one’s normal routine, lack of sleep, stress, fatigue, distractions and hormone changes. When these factors combine, the ability for the brain to multi‐task is diminished.

As parents know, life with newborns and small children is full of stress, sleep deprivation and distractions. And young children, especially babies, often fall asleep in their car seats; becoming quiet, unobtrusive little passengers. And sadly, for babies with rear‐facing seats, the seat looks the same from the front seat – whether occupied or not.

Never Leave Your Children Alone in a Vehicle – Not Even for a Minute!

  • Some people may think it’s OK to leave children in cars to run an errand, so they crack the window open. Some people may literally forget about a quiet, sleeping child in the back of their car as happens dozens of times a year across the country. Regardless, know the dangers. A child’s body temperature rises 3-5 times faster than an adult’s. Put something you’ll need like your cellphone, handbag, employee ID or brief case, etc., on the floor board in the back seat.
  • Get in the habit of always opening the back door of your vehicle every time you reach your destination to make sure no child has been left behind. This will soon become a habit. Kids and Cars calls this the “Look Before You Lock” campaign.
  • Keep a large stuffed animal in the child’s car seat when it’s not occupied. When the child is placed in the seat, put the stuffed animal in the front passenger seat. It’s a visual reminder that anytime the stuffed animal is up front you know the child is in the back seat in a child safety seat.
  • Make arrangements with your child’s day care center or babysitter that you will always call if your child will not be there on a particular day as scheduled.
  • Use drive‐thru services when available (restaurants, banks, pharmacies, dry cleaners, etc.) instead of “running in for just a minute.”
  • And if you see a child alone in a vehicle, get involved and call 9-1-1 immediately. If they are hot or seem sick, get them out as quickly as possible.

Kids and Cars Safety Checklist - don't leave children or pets unattended in vehicles!

For additional information about ways to keep children safe in and around vehicles, visit


Pets: Fairfax Prepares Day 1

Posted 11:42 a.m.

Fairfax Prepares Day 1(First of 30 ideas as part of a preparedness campaign this September. Learn more.)

Those of us with pets love them. They are part of our family.

When a disaster strikes, such as a flood or tornado, we need be ready to take proper care of and plan for our dogs, cats and other pets.

In an ongoing emergency survey right now, only 13 percent of respondents said they have made preparedness kits for their pets. Let’s work as the whole community to improve that percentage.

Photo of two cats; make sure you have plans for your animals, too.Your disaster pet kit should include:

  • Food and water for at least three days
  • Medications and medical records
  • Cat litter box and litter
  • Sturdy leashes, harnesses, and carriers
  • Current photos and descriptions
  • Pet beds and toys
  • Information about your pets’ feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to board your pets or place them in foster care

Exclamation point iconTHE ASK: Buy an extra bag (or cans) of food for your pet the next time you go to the store.

TELL US you’ve done this:

  • Post a quick reply in this blog’s comments section below such as “I’ve done this.”
  • Use the Twitter hashtag #fairfaxprepares and tweet your accomplishment. Include photos if you’d like.
  • Like our special Facebook page for this campaign to leave comments and share tips with your friends.
  • Email us at that you accomplished an ask.



  • Click the links below to email, share on social media or print a hard copy. Thanks!

30 Ways in 30 Days logo

Heat Visits Us Again Friday

Posted 9:59 a.m.

Another heat advisory is in effect from noon to 7 p.m. today. The heat index will be over 100 degrees. Yesterday on this blog, we shared four simple ways we can keep ourselves and each other safe.

One of those ways to keep our whole community safe, including our furry friends, is to never leave pets unattended in vehicles. The image below helps illustrate and our animal control officers provide more tips to protect our pets in the heat.

Dog with bowl of water; share this image to help pet parents know the signs of heatstroke

Pet Safety on Hot Days

Posted: 10:20 a.m.

  • Never leave pets in a parked car. On a warm day, temperatures can rapidly rise to dangerous levels. If you see an animal in distress in a parked car, contact police. Even with the windows slightly open, the temperature in a car on a 93-degree day can soar to 125 degrees in just 20 minutes and approximately 140 degrees in 40 minutes.
  • Shade and water are vital to pets.
  • Limit exercise on hot days. Take care to adjust intensity and duration of exercise. Watch for shortness of breath and remember that asphalt gets very hot and can burn paws; walk your dog on the grass if possible.
  • Signs that your pet may need further attention.

Get Your Pets Prepared

CatWith an earthquake, hurricane and flood behind us (but who knows what’s next), include your pet in your family emergency plan and assemble an emergency kit for your pet. By taking these steps now, you will greatly increase your pet’s chance of survival.

View more National Preparedness Month tips.



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