By Brenna Fender
We’ve had a peaceful hurricane season here in Florida so far but it’s not over. How can you keep your pets safe in case the worst happens?
If You Have to Evacuate
If you have to evacuate, do not leave your pets at home. If it isn’t safe for you to be at your house, it’s not safe for animals either. But many shelters don’t allow dogs. Where will you go?
This is where advance preparation makes a difference. Research shelters in your area to determine if any of them will allow you to bring your pets. If not, or if you cannot confirm that pets will be allowed, you will need to make other plans.
Decide where you plan to go in case of an emergency. Then contact family, friends, hotels, veterinarians, and boarding kennels in that area to determine your options. You may not have to travel far to get out of a flood zone, so facilities in your own general area may be just what you need. You may wish to make a list in advance of several options near you and then farther away so that you will be prepared in any circumstance.
If it looks like a hurricane is coming your way and you live in an area that is likely to be evacuated, you will probably rush and pack a few bags. But you can pack your pets’ supplies in advance, setting aside a week’s worth of pet food, spare bowls and leashes, and copies of your pets’ vaccine records and other important papers in a safe, easy-to-locate spot. Spare blankets and toys are great to have as well, as well as a few bottles of water.
If your pet takes medication or needs other supplies that you can’t pack in advance, put a note listing those items with your packed supplies so that you won’t forget them if you must leave quickly.
What Else Can you do to Prepare?
There are more things you can do in advance of an emergency to make an evacuation safer and more comfortable for you and your pets.
- Put identification on your pets and keep contact information up-to-date. While tags with your current cell phone number on them are crucial in case your dog is lost in an emergency situation, collars can fall off or be removed. Microchips offer a way to permanently identify your pet. Just remember to update the contact info if you move or change your phone number.
- Don’t allow supplies like food and medication to get low. Always have a week’s worth on hand.
- Purchase and train your pet to rest in a crate if you don’t already have one. You may find that a crate that collapses or folds is easier to pack and travel with than a rigid plastic one. Even the most well-behaved dogs and cats will need to be crated for their own safety in an emergency. Acquire travel cages for other animals like birds and rodents.
Let’s hope that hurricanes will stay away and no one in our area will have to worry about evacuating. But it is good to be prepared for the worst while hoping for the best!