By Shelly Allen
If you’re like most Floridians you have a plan, whether it’s evacuating or hunkering down to ride out the storm, you probably know in advance what actions to take and what needs to be done. BUT what about your pets during the hurricane season, have you prepared a plan of action for them as well? In this article, we’ll give you some solid advice to get you pointed in the right direction.
Just like your own hurricane plan, your hurricane plan for your pets should be broken down into categories. The first category is the pre-hurricane preparation. This category encompasses many things you may have thought of already, and some you may not have. One of the first things you need to include in your pre-storm planning is getting your pets vaccinated. Infectious diseases can become a BIG threat to animals following a disaster. Rabies exists in wildlife and without proper precautions is fatal to people and animals. Healthy pets have a greater chance of surviving the stresses of a storm.
Be certain you have a pet carrier for each and every pet you have. Make sure it is large enough for the pet to be able to stand up and turn around. If the carrier is large enough you can house more than one pet per cage but make certain they are not different species. Meaning, don’t put a cat and a small dog in the same carrier as the stress of a storm could cause behavioral changes. Also, take the time to familiarize your pet with their carrier prior to an emergency so that the carrier does not frighten them when you need to put them in it.
The last pre-storm preparation you absolutely need to make is IDENTIFICATION. Make certain your pet has all the proper identification they would need if they somehow got loose during or after a storm. Proper identification includes current license and identification tags on a properly fitted collar, microchipping and/or tattooing, and current high-quality photos of each pet. Consider utilizing more than one identification method. For instance, if someone finds your pet and it has both a tattoo and a microchip, you’ve just doubled your chances of having your pet returned to you.
So now you’re prepared and there’s a hurricane approaching. If you plan on evacuating, leave early! Your goal should be to evacuate to a safe location and friends or relatives in a safe location are your best bet. If you plan on staying in a hotel or motel make certain they allow pets and make reservations in advance, secure your reservation by paying upfront. Remember, many shelters do not allow pets. Allow sufficient time to travel to your secure location and take your pet emergency kit along with you.
If you’re evacuating and you absolutely cannot take your pet with you, you need to make certain you find your pet a secure place to ride out the storm. Ask your veterinarian if they board during a hurricane and if so, do they also stay with the animals during the storm? Someone should stay in the facility to ride out the storm with the animals and make certain they are taken care of.
If you plan on riding out the storm in your home, it is just as important to be prepared and plan adequately! You will need to make certain you have everything you would have needed had you evacuated. Your pets will be most comfortable in their carriers in a safe area of your home until the storm has passed. If your pets are not secured during the storm and your house is damaged, your pets may escape and become disoriented as familiar landmarks and scent trails could be obliterated. If your pets become lost, proper ID will help to ensure their return to you.
Once the storm has passed, walk your pets on a leash until they become reoriented to their home, but BEWARE of downed power lines! Downed power lines pose a real threat to you and your pets! Do not allow your pets to consume food or water that may have been contaminated. If you think your water has been contaminated, add 2 drops of household bleach per quart of water and allow to stand for 30 minutes. Also, be sure to use caution with candles and oil lamps as your pets may still be a little shaken up after a storm and could inadvertently tip them over and cause a fire.
All in all, if you make the proper arrangements, plan ahead, and use common sense you and your pets should weather the storm fairly well. After all, when you know you have done everything you can do to protect all members of your family you gain a tremendous piece of mind!
YOUR PET EMERGENCY KIT SHOULD INCLUDE:
• PET OWNERSHIP, REGISTRATION, PHOTOS, AND HEALTH PAPERS, SPECIAL MEDICATIONS
• AMPLE FOOD AND WATER (AT LEAST A 2-WEEK SUPPLY), WATER/FOOD BOWLS, MANUAL CAN OPENER, NEWSPAPERS, PLASTIC TRASH BAGS, CLEANSER AND DISINFECTANT FOR HANDLING WASTE, AND CAT LITTER
• GROOMING EQUIPMENT AND HYGIENE ITEMS
• TOYS, BLANKETS, AND SPECIAL COMFORT ITEMS
• PET FIRST-AID KIT, WHICH SHOULD INCLUDE MOST EVERYTHING THAT YOUR OWN FIRST-AID KIT INCLUDES