• Kyodo

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Pets are part of the family for 80.5 percent of some 3,500 people who were asked whether they would flee with their animals during a natural disaster.

Despite this, just 4.2 percent of those surveyed had contingency plans in place for their pets.

The results released Friday by pet insurer Anicom Insurance Inc. show that although many people think of pets as family members, pets are not always treated that way.

The online survey in September showed that about 80 percent of the respondents own dogs and 10 percent own cats. Over 96 percent would want to evacuate with their pets, including about 15.8 percent who said they would do so “if at all possible.”

The survey also found that 60.9 percent are taking disaster-protection steps for their pets. With multiple answers allowed, 71.9 percent said they had prepared “water and food,” 58.9 percent had “cages for evacuation” ready, and 25.3 percent had trained their pets to enter the cages on command.

But 76.9 percent indicated they were unaware of disaster-protection measures covering pets in the areas where they live.

The Environment Ministry recommends that people try to evacuate with their pets. The ministry noted, however, that some of the people who took pets to shelters after the April earthquakes hit Kumamoto Prefecture had trouble with other evacuees. Others remained with their pets in cars to avoid trouble, it added.

“Pet owners need to gather information from the home pages of their municipal governments and decide on emergency places for stowing their pets, such as the homes of relatives or friends who live in distant areas,” the ministry said.

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