Preparing Your Pets for Hurricane Season

Story by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Kayla Jo Finley, Defense Media Activity

Photo: My two dogs, Hank and Bruno made me become aware of all the necessary precautions for your pets during hurricane season.  Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Kayla Jo Finley.

My two dogs, Hank and Bruno, made me become aware of all the necessary precautions for your pets during hurricane season. (Courtesy photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Kayla Jo Finley)

Hurricane season is here and humans are not the only ones who need to be prepared.  Pets need to be prepared also.  Even if treated like a human, your pets will have different needs than you when it comes to hurricanes.

In my personal experience, I found preparing your pet may be more challenging than preparing yourself for a variety of reasons.  One reason is that unlike animals, we (humans) do not require proof of shots in most circumstances. Another challenge is that pets are not allowed everywhere, especially large pets.  Even if your dog is more well-behaved than some humans, he or she will always have more restrictions when it comes to temporary housing.

There’s a lot to consider when creating your pet’s emergency response plan, but it’s not an impossible task. Here are some tips to help you along the way and give you peace of mind that your furry friends will be ready if a monster storm hits.

Start Training: One problem I ran into was that my dogs were never trained to handle situations during a disaster.  One of the most important things you can do for your pet is to crate train them.  In a disaster, you may have to evacuate and your pet may have to endure long hours in a vehicle.  Your pet may also be required to stay in a crate once you get to a shelter.  To help reduce stress, start crate training as soon as you can.

Get Microchipped and Update Tags: If you and your pet are ever separated, a microchip is the best way to ensure that you will be contacted if your pet is found.   It’s also important to make sure your pet has updated tags.  Get a personalized name tag with their name, your name, phone number and address engraved on it.  Make sure that you also attach their updated rabies tag with their new name tag.

Get a Rescue Alert Sticker: You should never leave your pet at home during a hurricane.  If for some reason you are not home when it happens, you should have a rescue sticker on your front door.  The rescue sticker lets rescue workers know if there are pets in the home.  To get a free emergency pet alert sticker, visit ASPCA and fill out their online form.

Update Shots: The announcement of a storm is not the time to make sure your pet’s shot records are up-to-date.  Make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date well before the threat.  Have copies of your pet’s vaccination records readily available.  Most shelters will require you to provide them before admitting your pet.

Pet Hurricane Kit:  No matter what type of pet you have whether it be a lizard, dog or cat, you need to have a hurricane kit ready for them.  Here are a few items your pet may need:

-Leash

-Carrier or cage

-At least one week’s supply of food (Don’t forget a can opener if your pet eats canned food or just use pop-top canned food.)

-Food and water bowls

-Any medications

-Specific care instructions

-Newspapers and plastic trash bags for handling waste

-Disposable litter trays and pads

Arrange a Safe Place:  If your home is not safe for you, then it is NOT safe for your pet.  Make a plan outlining where you can take your pets.  Not all shelters allow animals, so start your research now to find safe places for your pet. Consulting your veterinarian, contacting local shelters, conducting internet searches for pet-friendly hotels and calling on friends and loved ones to care for your pets in an emergency are all great ways to ensure your pets safety before a storm.

If you are not evacuating, figure out the best place for you and your pets to stay in your home when storm hits.  If your safe room isn’t a place your pets normally spend a lot of time, be sure to bring them into the designated area before an emergency so they can get used to it.  Also, make sure there is no way for your pets to escape the room and have your hurricane emergency response kit and supplies already in the room.

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