It's important to be prepared. Your pets are counting on you.
The horrible images of Hurricane Katrina, and now Hurricane Harvey, were and still are painful to watch, but the lasting impact from the aftermath completely changed how we handle disasters--particularly when it comes to pets.
Ill-equipped to address the scale of the Hurricane Katrina, emergency responders and shelters would not allow evacuees to bring their pets with them, and even forced people to leave behind their service dogs. It was a heart-wrenching scene in Hurricane Katrina; 250,000 pets were abandoned, and an estimated 150,000 died from the storm. The numbers from Harvey have yet to be tallied. However, while these disasters are awful and devastating, they highlight the need for preparation.
Since Katrina, laws have been passed to accommodate animals during disasters and awareness campaigns about the importance of preparing for your pets' care during an emergency. With some advance thought and planning, you can prepare your pet for a hurricane and keep your companion safe.
Here are six steps you can take to be prepared:
1. Make sure your pet has identification:
Make sure your dog or cat has a collar with their name and your phone number on it. If separated from you, that can be helpful in getting them back to you.
2. Bring crates:
If you have to evacuate your home, bring a crate large enough for your pet to stand in and lie down.
While some shelters will accept pets, they often require the animals remain restrained at all times. If you do not have a crate, you may be turned away.
3. Have copies of your pet's vet records:
Some shelters will require proof of vaccinations to admit your pet, so keep photocopies of your pet's records ready.
Keep them in an emergency bag you keep packed and ready so that if a disaster hits, you can get out quickly.
4. Pack food, water and medication:
While it is a good idea to make sure you bring food and water for you and your family, make sure you pack food and bottled water for your pets as well.
Plan to bring at least a three-day supply, at a minimum.
READ MORE: What to Include in Disaster Kits for Pets
5. Know your local evacuation centers:
Before a hurricane or other disaster heads your way, identify local evacuation shelters. Most will be listed on your county's website. They typically list if they accept pets; if they do not, call ahead of time to find a location.
6. Identify alternatives:
In the case of hurricanes, you may have several days' warning, which can be a priceless asset. If none of your local shelters allow animals, you can spend some time identifying alternatives.
If you can leave your home and drive away from the reach of the impending storm, you can find pet-friendly accommodations in a safe zone. Bring Fido is a terrific site. Simply supply your location, and it will give you a list of hotels and inns nearby that accept animals.
A major storm can be terrifying for both you and your pets. However, with some pre-planning and preparation, you can ensure your dog or cat is safe and secure.
Pack a bag of emergency supplies, contact local shelters and identify alternative solutions so that you and your pet are not separated. With some extra care, you can prepare your pet for a hurricane effectively.
Here is a checklist you can print out and have on your fridge.
Have you ever been in a natural disaster? Tell us how you prepared in the comments below.
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