Hurricane Preparedness: Caring For Your Pets
Don't forget your pet when preparing a disaster plan.
Here are some helpful steps you need to take in order to ensure your pet's safety in the event of a disaster or hurricane based on information from the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness website, getagameplan.org.
Plan for your pets in advance:
Animal ownership is a personal responsibility and properly caring for your animals during a storm and possible evacuation takes careful preparation and planning ahead of time.
Make sure your pets have proper identification - preferably something permanent like a microchip or tattoo and collars with identifying tags. Take digital or film pictures of any identifying marks on the pet in order to prove ownership.
Have a disaster supply kit ready
- Proper identification including immunization records
- Ample supply of food and water
- A carrier or cage
- Muzzle, collar and leash
Before the Disaster
- Make sure that your pets are current on their vaccinations. Pet shelters may require proof of vaccines.
- Have a current photograph.
- Keep a collar with identification on your pet and have a leash on hand to control your pet.
- Have a properly-sized pet carrier for each animal - carriers should be large enough for the animal to stand and turn around.
- Plan your evacuation strategy and don't forget your pet! Specialized pet shelters, animal control shelters, veterinary clinics and friends and relatives out of harm's way are ALL potential refuges for your pet during a disaster. If you plan to shelter your pet - work it into your evacuation route planning.
During the Disaster
- Animals brought to a pet shelter are required to have: Proper identification collar and rabies tag, proper identification on all belongings, a carrier or cage, a leash, an ample supply of food, water and food bowls, any necessary medications, specific care instructions and news papers or trash bags for clean-up.
- Bring pets indoors well in advance of a storm - reassure them and remain calm.
- Pet shelters will be filled on a first come, first served basis. Call ahead and determine availability.
After the Disaster
- Walk pets on a leash until they become re-oriented to their home - often familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and pets could easily be confused and become lost. Also, downed power lines, reptiles brought in with high water and debris can all pose a threat for animals after a disaster.
- If pets cannot be found after a disaster, contact the local animal control office to find out where lost animals can be recovered. Bring along a picture of your pet if possible.
- After a disaster, animals can become aggressive or defensive - monitor their behavior.
Plan for cattle and horses
Cattle and horse owners should move their livestock to an area of their property that is least likely to flood where a herd can quickly and easily be moved when a hurricane threatens the area.
Owners of expensive or genetically superior breeding stock should consider transporting their animals with them during an evacuation. It's important for livestock owners who plan to evacuate with a trailer of animals to leave as early as possible. During hurricane evacuations it is not unusual for routes to close to trailer and towing traffic.
Bring health records, food, special medications, bridles, leads, rope, etc. For horses, be sure to bring proof of EIA testing.
Contact your veterinarian or local humane society for more information on preparing your pets for an emergency.
You can also visit these websites for more information:
- The Humane Society Disaster Center
- FEMA – Animals and Emergencies
- Locate Pet-Friendly Hotels and Motels
Visit the Get A Game Plan website for more information on hurricane preparedness.