Protecting your pets in the event of hurricanes and other natural disasters

flood, hurricane matthew

Tensions are running high in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. The storm is slated to hit hard, and when it does, it won’t spare anyone- not even our beloved pets.

Hurricane Matthew watches and warnings, protecting your pet from natural disaster
Courtesy of The Weather Channel

Thus far, the hurricane has already caused devastation in Florida, and coastal flood damage in South Carolina. Threats loom for North Carolina and Georgia.

The ASPCA has already activated a disaster response team, anticipating the needs of animals and shelters in the regions immediately affected.

ASPCA Readies Responders for Hurricane Matthew

There are some basic precautions pet owners can take to keep their pets safe, and improve their chances of reuniting with a lost pet should the worst case scenario occur:

  1. First and foremost- never never ever leave your animals behind.There is absolutely no way of knowing how long you will be gone, or whether or not your house will even still be left standing when you come back. Many animals have died being left in similar scenarios, dying trying to escape in a panic.Here is an extensive list of pet friendly lodging and shelters (by state). There are many shelters located in Florida, and almost all we are seeing are pet friendly.
  2. Keep a file of your dogs vaccination records on hand- some of the shelters require them (at least proof of the rabies vaccination).
  3. Look up the shelter closest to you before it becomes an emergency and urgent evacuation is required- many of the pet friendly shelters fill up faster, and some require pet owners register ahead of time.
  4. ID tags have always been and will always be a lost pet’s ticket home. Make sure your most up-to-date information is present, including telephone number and address. Micro-chipping is another great option, but many sad stories have come to light recently when micro-chipped animals with out of date information were euthanized due to difficulties finding the owner.Bottom line- IDs and Chips are useless if they contain bad information.
  5. Make a plan ahead of time if you are not near a pet friendly shelter.If you are not near one, or for whatever reason you do not wish to stay at one, make a plan with someone you trust who lives in a safe zone. Make sure to allow plenty of time to get to your destination.
  6. If you are a healthcare worker or disaster relief worker, make a plan for your pet ahead of time. You will likely be mandated to work and should make separate arrangements for your pet. Many humane societies will allow such workers to board their pet for little to no fee under such circumstances.
  7. If you must evacuate, bring a 2 week supply of your pet’s medicine and food.
  8. Keep a list of emergency contact numbers in your wallet- include: an emergency contact you would trust to take care of your pet in the event of emergency, pet friendly shelters/hotels, your dog’s veterinarian, the animal shelter, among others.
  9. Have a travel carrier and leash ready to go at all times. You never know how quickly you may need to evacuate. Some animals may feel more safe in a carrier with you nearby anyways. What you don’t want to be doing, is looking for your scared, hiding animal in a panic.
  10. Keep a recent picture of your pet with you in the event you are separated.
  11.  Put together an emergency kit for your pet. Make sure you include:
    -2 week supply of food
    -2 week supply of medication
    -Medical supplies & first aid kit
    -Favorite toy, anything soothing for your petDoctor, Luggage, Verbandszeug, Patch, Association Case
  12. We recommend always having a first aid kit for your pet:-sterile gauze pads
    -bandage rolls/ACE wraps
    -Adhesive tape
    -cotton swabs
    -tongue depressors (make-shift splints)
    -Imodium AD
    -Hydrogen Peroxide
    -Cornstarch (can help with bleeding from minor lacerations/abrasions
    -Antibacterial ointment
    -Cleansing wipes
    -Latex gloves
    -An up-to-date pet first aid book
    -Eyewash and eyedropper (sterile saline in a container equip for irrigation is best).
    -Mineral oil
    -Thin rope
    -Thick magazine (use with tongue depressor or ruler for makeshift splint).Go here for disaster preparedness tools, tips, and links.Shelters for Hurricane Matthew by county.

    The cages are lined up at the pet shelter in Tamarac.
    Courtesy of Audra D.S. Burch/Miami Herald


    Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the hurricane. Stay safe, and hold your furry loved-ones close.



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