As Hurricane Dorian barrels towards the East Coast of the United States, it's important to prepare for the storm. However, in the rush to prepare for our family's safety, it can be easy to accidentally overlook the needs of four-legged family members that mean so much to us. Making sure your entire family is prepared to weather the storm, whether you're evacuating or not, is essential!
Include Your Pet in Any Evacuation Plans:
If it isn't safe for you, it isn't safe for your pets. You have no way of knowing how long you'll be kept out of the area, and you may not be able—or allowed—to go back for your pets. Pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost or killed.
Make sure you have a space for your pets in the car when you are setting up your evacuation plans so they don’t get left behind. Buy a travel carrier ahead of time, so you have one on hand, and label it with your contact information and a description of the animal that will be using the carrier.
If your pets aren’t used to traveling in a carrier, perform a few trial runs so they are comfortable.
If you are going to evacuate, know that not all hurricane shelters can accommodate pets. Check with local animal shelters or pet hotels that may be set up as pet-friendly hurricane shelters. For example, the local Humane Society of Broward County that Meowingtons partners with offers a pet-friendly hurricane shelter in case of hurricane evacuation.
Create a Pet Evacuation Kit
Have a kit ready to go for an emergency evacuation that is stocked with everything your pet will need on the road. Keep in mind that you may need several days worth of provisions and medical supplies. It may be good idea to take some of your cat's favorite treats in case they are too nervous to eat their usual food; they may respond better to their favorite treats.
Update Your Pet’s Vaccinations
Ideally, you and your pets will remain together during an emergency. But if, for some reason, they need to be boarded or taken to the vet during the chaos, they’ll also need to be up to date on all their vaccinations to be guaranteed admittance. Many facilities will require proof that your pet is up to date on vaccinations, so ask your vet for a copy of your pet’s medical record and make it part of your evacuation kit.
Make Sure Your Pet Is Microchipped
If you and your pet are separated, this small piece of technology could be the one thing that reconnects you two. A microchip loaded with your contact information is inserted under your pet’s skin and stays there for life, with no ill effects to your pet’s health.
When animals come into a vet, rescue or shelter they are scanned for a microchip to see if they have an owner. When a microchip is found, the person listed on the chip is contacted. For this reason, it is also important that you keep the information on your pet’s microchip up to date. This can be done online without any removal of the chip.
If you stay home, do it safely
If your family and pets must wait out a storm or other disaster at home, identify a safe area of your home where you can all stay together.
- Don’t go outside during the eye of a hurricane. You don’t know when the other side of the eye wall will hit.
- Close off or eliminate unsafe nooks and crannies where frightened cats may try to hide and get trapped.
- Move dangerous items such as tools or toxic products that have been stored in the area.
- Bring your pets indoors as soon as local authorities say trouble is on the way. Keep dogs on leashes and cats in carriers, and make sure they are wearing identification.
- If you have a room you can designate as a "safe room," put your emergency supplies in that room in advance, including your pet's crate and supplies. Have any medications and a supply of pet food and water inside watertight containers, along with your other emergency supplies. If there is an open fireplace, vent, pet door or similar opening in the house, close it off with plastic sheeting and strong tape.
- Listen to the radio periodically, and don't come out until you know it's safe.
After the storm
Your home may be a very different place after the emergency is over, and it may be hard for your pets to adjust.
- Don't allow your pets to roam loose. Familiar landmarks and smells might be gone, and your pet will probably be disoriented. Pets can easily get lost in such situations.
- While you assess the damage, keep dogs on leashes and cats in carriers inside the house. If your house is damaged, your pets could escape.
- Be patient with your pets after a disaster. Try to get them back into their normal routines as soon as possible. Be ready for behavioral problems caused by the stress of the situation. If these problems persist, or if your pet seems to be having any health problems, talk to your veterinarian.
If you have any further tips or advice to add to help prepare your pets for a natural disaster, please share them with us!