Hurricane Ike taught us all many lessons. In my world, one of the biggest was the importance of safely evacuating with your pets before the storm.
Many will remember, evacuating with personal pets was certainly encouraged but, sadly, mostly ignored. After assisting in the rescue of more than 1,500 pets left on our island, I am a firm believer in early preparation and planning for the worst, not the best.
As a pet owner, you are responsible for disaster planning for your pets. If the need arises for people to evacuate, there is an equal need for your pets to go with you. Don’t wait for disaster to strike — plan now!
Please follow these steps to be prepared.
1. Make sure your pets always wear clearly marked identification. Dogs should wear leather or nylon collars with tags.
Cats should wear breakaway or safety collars, and, yes, they can wear tags, too. Remember, if your pets become frightened, they could get away from you.
2. Consider microchipping your pet as a means of permanent identification. We recommend it always, but it’s even more useful in an emergency situation. If your pet is already chipped, is your information current? Check with your provider today.
3. Be certain all animals are up-to-date on their vaccinations. Are they wearing their tags?
4. Research safe, welcoming places to take your pet if an evacuation is called. Identify an evacuation route before the storm hits.
5. Make arrangements for family members or friends to evacuate your pet in case you are out of town when an evacuation is ordered.
6. Don’t forget your birds, reptiles or pocket pets (hamsters, gerbils, etc.). They need your protection, too.
7. On the island, we tend to forget the importance of planning for horses and other farm animals. Their size, shelter requirements, vaccination needs and transportation needs make planning crucial.
8. Prepare a portable pet disaster kit. Keep your important papers safe by using a sealed, waterproof bag. Items to remember:
- Medical and vaccination records; specific care instructions, if needed;
- Medication and dosage instructions (two-week supply);
- Heartworm preventive;
- Photos of you and your pets together;
- Carrier or cage (labeled);
- Pet bed and blanket;
- Water and food bowls;
- Two-week supply of water and food;
- Nonelectric (manual) can opener if feeding canned food;
- Leash, collar and harness;
- Favorite toys and treats;
- Paper towels and bags for cleanup; and
- Flashlight and batteries.
Remember, this is a scary time for your pets. Don’t forget their favorite toys or beds to provide them with a little additional security and comfort. Take an ample supply of food, as changes in diet can create health issues.
The moral of the story is: If it’s not safe for you, it’s not safe for your pets.