Hurricane Preparedness for your pet
Living in Florida has numerous benefits- especially the tropical climate which makes for an abundance of year-round outdoor activities. As all Florida residents know, one of the downsides to our tropical climate is the threat of tropical storms and hurricanes from June until November. Although we have been very fortunate not to have had a major storm threaten our area in several years, we can not let our guard down and must be prepared at any time during hurricane season. Most of us who have lived in Florida long enough know that we need to have a hurricane supply kit ready to go in the event of the storm. These kits typically will include flashlights, batteries, a battery powered radio, canned foods- you know the drill. But have you given serious thought to what you need for your pet in the event of a named storm?
If you need to evacuate, remember that most shelters in our area do not accept pets. If you routinely board your pet(s) at a kennel or ‘doggie day care’ check with their staff to learn about their hurricane policies and procedures. Remember, their employees may need to evacuate too- so they may not be able to remain open during a storm. Don’t assume you will be able to board your pets in the event of a storm.
Follow these steps to begin formulating your plan:
1. Determine where you will go if you must evacuate with your pets.
Option 1: Friends/Family
Seek out friends or family who live outside of the storm’s path, if possible. Consideration should be given to their ability to house another family, including additional pets. Contact them months in advance prior to hurricane season to make sure that your family and pets will be welcome in the event of a hurricane.
Option 2: Hotel/Motel
Find a pet-friendly hotel outside of the projected path of the storm. Although this would be an added expense during an already stressful time, having a safe and secure location for your family and pets is well worth the peace of mind. There are hundreds of pet-friendly hotels throughout the state. Below are some websites which can help you select the right hotel for you and your family. Find a few properties in different locations throughout the state that would meet your specific needs. Put their numbers in your cell phone so you have them at the ready if you need to evacuate.
Option 3: Evacuation/Emergency Shelter
Go to a county shelter which accepts pets. This should be the last option if you must evacuate, as living conditions will be less than ideal, and you are still within the storm’s path. Hillsborough county offers 4 pet-friendly shelters, Pinellas County offers three. Pinellas county requires pre-registration for their pet-friendly shelters and preference is given to families in mobile homes and within evacuation zones A,B and C. If you live in Pinellas County and have no other place to evacuate to, pre-register for a location now, so you may be approved well in advance of the storm. Hillsborough county does not require pre-registration, but space is limited in each shelter. Have a plan B if you are unable to get into a shelter which accepts pets.
Option 4: Stay in your residenceThis option should NEVER be used if you live in an area which is under a mandatory evacuation. ALWAYS follow the direction of your local emergency management officials. If you are not under a mandatory evacuation, and only if you are positive your residence can withstand the punishment from the storm.
If you are staying within your residence, prepare an area in the interior section of your house for your family to include your pets. As the storm approaches, place your pets in a pet crate with some comfort items such as a blanket, pet bed or favorite toys. Your pets will most likely become anxious and frightened during the height of the storm. If your home is damaged during the storm, a sturdy crate or pet carrier will be the safest place for them, and lessens the potential for escape.
I strongly suggest having each of your pets microchipped. Microchip technology reunites more lost pets with their owners than any other method. If your pet should escape or become lost during a hurricane or for any other reason, a microchip implanted between the shoulder blades of your pet is the most reliable way to have your pet returned to you.
Determining where you are going to go is just step one. Now, you need to gather your pet’s storm supplies to ensure their health and safety during and after the storm.
Here is your checklist of things you will need FOR EACH PET:
Proof of Vaccinations- if you plan on evacuating to a emergency shelter, proof of vaccines will be required. Be sure you check with your local shelters to learn about their specific rules and what else will be required.
Two-weeks worth of food
Feeding and water dishes
Manual can opener if your pet eats canned food
Two weeks worth of fresh water
Cat litter, newspaper or other cat litter material
Plastic bags for handling pet waste
2 weeks worth of any medication(s)
Cage/Pet carrier- Pet carriers or crates should be large enough for your pet to stand up and turn around. It should also have secure doors to prevent escape.
Current photo of pet
Adhesive tape such as vet wrap
Comfort items such as chew toys, blankets or pet beds.
We’ve been fortunate so far this year, with no storms so far threatening our area. But we owe it to ourselves and our pets to always be ready in case of an emergency. If you have any questions regarding hurricane preparedness for your pets, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org