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State Launches Pet Preparedness Campaign

June is pet preparedness month 

May 31, 2019

commissioner mike strain, lady donna edwards and johnette downing

First Lady Donna Edwards, Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., and Johnette Downing launched Pet Preparedness Campaign. 

Baton Rouge, La. (May 31, 2019) –Today, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) launched a music video called “Take Your Pets with You” in conjunction with Pet Preparedness Month and the start of hurricane season in June.

Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., is also urging everyone to Get a Game Plan for their family pet during emergencies. “History has proven time and again that many people are not ready in the event of a disaster. We have also learned that people will not evacuate their homes because they do not have a place to go with their pets. That is why we continue to provide information to help people prepare,” said Strain.  “Our goal, always, is to see that people and their pets get out of harm’s way.

The LDAF is charged by the Louisiana state legislature to assist with the evacuation and sheltering of pets whose owners need assistance evacuating to a safe place.

The song was written, performed and donated by New Orleans musician Johnette Downing accompanied by trumpeter Kevin Clark of the Dukes of Dixieland, sousaphonist Kirk Joseph of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and percussionist Michael Skinkus. Downing is also an award winning children’s book author dedicated to sharing her Louisiana roots in music, books and programs with children globally. She has performed on five continents and has received multiple awards including the 2017 Louisiana Writer Award.

Downing said, “During Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, I volunteered to help my sister who was setting up a co-located state pet/human shelter in Alexandria, La.  I assisted families during the registration process, and learned about the items, such as a leash, carrier and proof of vaccination, that are required at shelters.  As an evacuee with my own pet, I was inspired to write this song, as a checklist of these essential items, to better prepare children and their families to safely evacuate to shelters with their pets.”

“Johnette’s books are among my favorite to read to children, and she has once again done an outstanding job of creating a song and video for children that explain the importance of personal responsibility in a way that is fun and educational,” said First Lady Donna Edwards. “Hurricane Season is here, and we know from experience that it is never too early to have a plan in place or teach our kids about how they can help keep their pets safe during severe weather. Pets are part of the family and we must treat them as such. I applaud Johnette and Commissioner Mike Strain for getting the word out.”

Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Director James Waskom added, “For many people, pets are a part of the family. As you finalize your family’s emergency plans, make sure you have a solid pet plan.  Contact your local emergency manager to find what resources are available and how to connect with those resources.  It’s important to be responsible pet owners and take these preparation steps now, before you face an emergency.  As part of your emergency kit, have supplies for your pets.  Include items that may be needed for travel during an evacuation.”

The video was produced by the LDAF at no additional cost to the state. To view or download the video, go to or click on this link A planning guide for pet owners is also available for download HERE.

For more information on emergency preparation for pets, go to and