Hugh Weathers, South Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture, urges residents to plan ahead for their animals for the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30 each year.

Weathers said people should not wait until an evacuation order is given to think about how they will deal with their livestock and pets. Forecasters are calling for an active storm season in 2008, with an expected 12 to 16 named storms and two to five major hurricanes could form.

“With some prior planning people can ensure their animals, both large and small, do not become victims of a storm,” Weathers said. “I think we have all learned valuable lessons from previous hurricanes that have hit this state and nation.”

The South Carolina Department of Agriculture offers several tips for residents to think about while planning for a hurricane or any natural disaster.

• Keep animal vaccinations and other health requirements up to date.

• If possible, make arrangements in advance for evacuation of horses.

• Make sure trailers for carrying animals are current on maintenance.

• Keep food and potable water on hand.

• Carry animal health and vaccination records with you during an evacuation.

"Each citizen, farmers and non-farmers, should have a plan for the hurricane season,” Weathers said. “Review or complete your emergency plans now before a storm."

For more information on animal emergency preparedness plans visit Clemson’s at www.clemson.edu/ep.

For information on evacuating livestock, contact Mary Ellen Tobias, South Carolina Department of Agriculture, 803-734-2210, or visit www.agriculture.sc.gov and click on Livestock Evacuation under Producer Quick Links.