A Disaster Plan for Your Pets
Among the most common and tragic stories arriving from front lines of natural disasters is that of pets being lost to the whims of mother nature. Hurricanes are notorious for being natures most horrifying disasters and peoples pets are commonly victims of such events. People ask us, ”How do I avoid my dog, cat or pet from becoming a victim of a hurricane or other disaster?“
Here’s a short and simple guide to keeping your pet safe during Hurricane Season. Remember, preparation makes all the difference! If it’s not safe for you it’s not safe for them either, so take a few minutes to review this guideline and assemble an emergency kit for you and your pet. Saint Petersburg, the Tampa Bay area, Pinellas County and much of Florida's west coast are susceptible to considerable storm damage from Hurricanes so don't take chances. Too many people learn these lessons the hard way. Having plans for you and your pets as well as a survival kit will make it much easier to safely weather the storm.
1. ID your pet!
Make sure that your animal is wearing a collar and identification that is up to date. Chances of being reunited with your pet should they get lost are greatly increased if they are microchipped. If your pet was adopted from a shelter make sure the registration has been transferred to you. Put your cell phone number on your pet’s tag.
2. Get a Disaster Kit together!
It’s not that difficult and could save valuable time and maybe even a life! Here’s what you’ll need:
Food and Water for at least five days for each pet. Bowls and a manual can opener if you’re feeding canned pet food. People need at least 1 gallon of water per person per day. It’s a good idea to use the same formula for your pet – too much water is not a bad thing!
Medications and medical records stored in a waterproof container and throw in a first aid kit as well. This might be a good time to buy that pet first aid book you’ve always said you were getting.
Cat litter box, litter…..and don’t forget the scoop. Take some garbage bags to collect all the waste.
Leashes, harnesses and carriers! Remember, if you’re scared – they're scared and you need to keep control of them. Carriers should be big enough for your pet to stand up, turn around and lie down in – they could be in the carrier for hours at a time. Maybe a blanket or towels for bedding and warmth and a favorite toy to reduce stress.
Current photo showing you with your pet or pets. You’ll need this if you become separated from your pets. It will help others identify them and it will prove that they’re yours once you’re reunited. You might even consider pre-printing flyers with a photo of your pet, a short description and phone number tabs as an extra preventative measure, just in case.
Write down your pets’ care information. Feeding schedules, medical conditions and behavior issues such as “doesn’t like kids, gets startled by loud noises”, etc.. Have your veterinarians contact information on this sheet as well just in case you have to board your pets or place them in foster care.
3. Find a safe place to stay before you actually need it
Never assume that your local emergency shelter is going to allow you to bring your pet. More than likely they won’t! So before the disaster hits:
Call your local office of emergency management to see where the nearest emergency shelter will be that will allow pets.
Research pet friendly hotels and motels that are outside your region – remember to do this ahead of time! A good online resource for pet-friendly hotels: bringfido.com
Make arrangements with friends or relatives. Ask people outside of your immediate area who can shelter you and your pets- or just your pets – if necessary.
Make a list of boarding facilities and vet offices that might be able to shelter animals in disaster emergencies (have their 24 hour phone numbers handy). Get them in the address book on your smartphone as well as a printed copy in your glovebox.
4. What if you’re not at home when disaster strikes?!
Make arrangements in advance with a trusted neighbor, nearby friend, or family member to take your pets and meet you at a specified location. Make sure the person you designate is known to your pets and comfortable with the arrangements. Give them a key to your home and show them where your disaster supplies are kept and where your pets might hide when under stress.
If you use a pet sitting or dog walking service they may be able to help. Discuss the possibility with the service in advance. | ask us!
*If you're in the Greater Saint Petersburg Area please register with us in advance of inclement weather, that can hep us to help you in case of an emergency.
5. If you evacuate….TAKE YOUR PET!
As a rule: If it isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for your pets! Even if you think you’re only going to be gone for a few hours, take your pets. You have no way of knowing how long you’ll be kept out of the area and you may not be able or allowed to go back for your pets. Pets left behind can easily be injured, lost or killed. Those left inside your home can escape through storm-damaged areas such as broken windows and pets left to fend for themselves are likely to become victims of exposure, starvation, predators, contaminated food or water or accidents. Leaving dogs tied or chained outside in a disaster is a cruel death sentence.
Another rule: EVACUATE EARLY! Evacuating early will keep everyone safer and make the process less stressful. Some people who have waited to be evacuated by emergency personnel are forced to leave their pets behind.
6. If you stay at home, be safe.
Sometimes we have to ride the storm out at home so identify a safe area of your home where you can all stay together. Make sure the safe area is animal friendly. Close off or eliminate unsafe nooks and crannies where frightened cats may try to hide. Move dangerous items that may be stored in your safe area and bring your emergency supplies into the area. Close your windows and doors, stay inside and follow the instructions from your local emergency management office. Bring your pets indoors as soon as local authorities say trouble is on the way. Keep pets under your direct control so that if you do have to evacuate you will not have to spend time trying to find them. Keep dogs on leashes and cats in carriers and make sure everyone is wearing ID.
Most importantly, have a plan and emergency travel and survival kits ready to go. Don't wait until it may be too late to consider your pets safety during a severe weather event.
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We are eager to meet you and your special friend and strive through every interaction to make sure you are secure in the knowledge that your special friend is well cared for. Contact us any time.