|PREPARING FOR DISASTER FOR YOUR COMPANION ANIMAL|
Hereís some terrific information passed on to me by a fellow advocate regarding planning for a hurricane for your companion animal. This information is from Pets and Animals in Distress, based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. To view their very informative website, http://www.petsandanimals.org/.
Hurricane Safety Tips on How to Be Prepared!
A Public Service Hurricane Bulletin from Pets & Animals in Distress
Hurricane winds do a lot of damage, but drowning is the greatest cause of
hurricane deaths. As a hurricane storm approaches and moves across the coastline,
it brings huge waves and storm tides which may reach 25 feet or more above
normal. The rise may come rapidly, flooding coastal lowlands. Waves and currents
erode beaches and barrier islands, undermine waterfront structures, and wash
out highway and railroad beds. The torrential rains that accompany the
hurricane produce sudden flooding as the storm moves inland. As its winds diminish,
rainfall floods constitute the hurricane's greatest threat.
Planning ahead is the key to keeping yourself and your companion animals safe
during a disaster. Follow these tips to reduce the risk to your companion
animals during disasters:
∑ Always keep a collar and tag on those animals that should normally wear
This includes cats that never go outdoors. When putting a collar on a cat be
sure it is a break away collar, which is designed to slip over a cat's head
should the collar get caught on something. During a disaster an animal can
escape and a collar and tag increases your chances of getting the animal back. On
the tag, include your phone number and address. Remember the phones may not be
working, so in order to reunite you with your companion animal an address is
necessary. You may want to consider tattooing or microchipping your animals as
a more permanent form of identification. If you have been evacuated and are
going to be living away from home for an extended period of time, you should put
a temporary tag on your animals with a phone number, other than your home
number. If someone finds your animal and tries to call your home number, there is
a good chance it will not be working during a disaster.
∑ Identify several possible locations where you can take your animals
should you have to evacuate.
These would be places that would not likely be affected by the same disasters
that would hit where you live. This would include boarding kennels,
veterinary clinics with boarding space, grooming facilities, dog and cat clubs, and
training clubs. Don't forget to consider friends and family members too. Look for
hotels/motels that accept animals. Bookstores sell books that list "pet
friendly" lodging. Some hotels/motels may not normally allow animals, but they may
make an exception during a disaster, so make some inquiries. It is important
to know that Red Cross evacuation shelters will not allow animals, other than
seeing eye dogs and other recognized service dogs. If you are not sure where to
take an animal when you evacuate, do not leave them behind, as this greatly
increases the chances that an animal will not survive.
∑ Start a buddy system with someone in your neighborhood, so that they
will check on your animals during a disaster in case you aren't home.
Agree to do the same thing for them. Exchange information on veterinarians
and have a permission slip put in your file at the vet, authorizing your "buddy"
to get necessary emergency treatment for your animal should you not be able
to be reached. If someone watches your animals while you are on vacation, talk
with them about a disaster plan to be used to evacuate and care for your
animals in your absence.
∑ In addition to your regular supply of animal food have at least a weeks
supply of food on hand to be used during a disaster.
Store the dry food in an airtight/water proof container. If you use canned
food, buy the flip top cans or have a can opener with your disaster supplies. Do
not use canned food that has been opened and not refrigerated for an unsafe
period of time. You should also include any favorite treats that your animals
like, which can be a comfort to them during the stressful time that follows a
disaster. Chew toys can help entertain a dog that might have to be chained or
confined in a crate for the first time, or for longer periods of time than they
are used to. Continue to feed your animals the food they are used to and put
it out as close to the normal time as you can. Keeping them on their regular
routine, the best you can, helps minimize the stress they might be feeling. If
you feed canned food to dogs and cats, reduce the normal amount by half
(supplement with dry food) to reduce the possibility of the animal getting diarrhea.
∑ You should have at least a weeks supply of water in storage at all times
for your animals.
It can be stored in the gallon containers it is purchased in, but do not keep
it in direct sunlight, as algae will start to grow. Be sure to rotate the
water at least once every other month. It is important to not let animals drink
flood water or any other water sources that may be contaminated as a result of
a disaster. If officials have issued a "boil water" warning, that means that
the water that comes out of your tap is not healthy for people and animals to
drink. If you are drinking bottled water or purified water during a disaster
that is what your animals should be drinking too.
∑ Take several pictures of all the animals and keep these pictures with
your important insurance papers that you would take with you if you have to
Be sure to include in the pictures any distinguishing marks that would make
it easier to identity an animal. These pictures can help reunite you with a
lost animal. Store the pictures in a resealable plastic bag in case you have to
post them in the rain.
∑ Talk to your veterinarian to see if he/she has a disaster plan.
Your animal may need medical attention after a disaster has struck and you
need to know where to take your animal. If your regular veterinarian does not
have a plan, locate a veterinarian in your community who does. Knowing in
advance where to take an injured animal may save that animal's life if it is in
critical condition and time can't be wasted. Keep a first aid kit and first aid
book in your disaster kit for your animals. Assembled kits and books can be
bought at pet supply stores or ask your veterinarian for a list of what should go
into a first aid kit if you want to put one together yourself. If you have a
houseful of animals, putting together a kit yourself is advisable, as the
prepackaged kits will probably not contain enough supplies.
∑ If an animal is on long term medication, always keep a backup supply on
hand, since a veterinary office may not be open for some time following a
If the medication needs to be refrigerated, keep an ice chest on hand to
store it in, in case the electricity is off and you are unable to use your
refrigerator. If you need ice, you can usually get it from a Red Cross shelter.
∑ Have assembled and ready to go, a cat carrier to evacuate each cat in
An "Evacsak" is an alternative to a carrier. It is similar to a pillow case,
but is a much safer and more secure way to transport a small animal. They take
up a lot less space than carriers, and if you have a house full of animals
that need to be transported, you can get a lot more Evacsaks into a car. They
can be purchased by contacting Animal Care Equipment and Services at
1-800-338-ACES. A carrier would then be used to house a cat if you have to be away from
your home for an extended period of time. Be sure to have a shoe box size
litter box and a food and a water dish to use in the carrier.
∑ Have a harness and leash for each of the dogs in your household.
If you have to evacuate, dogs can become frightened and if you only have a
collar around their neck, they may be able to pull away from you and have the
collar slip over their head. A harness will allow you to securely control your
dog. If your dog rides in the car, always have a leash in the vehicle. A
disaster may occur while you are away from home, and if you should have to abandon
your car, you want to be able to keep your dog safely controlled. You may want
to get a harness and a leash for your cat too, in case you have to keep them
confined in a cage while you are living away from home. If they are not used to
being in a cage, a harness would allow you to safely take them out of the
cage and give them some exercise. Do not leave a cat unattended though while it
is on a leash, otherwise, the cat might end up strangling itself.
∑ Have a stake out cable for all the dogs in your household.
Walls and fences may come down during a disaster and it may be necessary to
keep your dog confined on a cable leash until repairs can be made. Be sure the
cable is long enough for the dog to move around, but not a length where it
might get tangled around something and cause the dog to choke itself. Shelter
from the elements should be within the dog's reach too. If you do not have
something to attach the cable to, you should get a stake that screws into the
ground. Be sure it is secure for the size dog you have. Pet supply stores sell a
variety of sizes.
∑ If your dog is kept in an outdoor run, make sure it's in a location
where falling debris (tree limbs, shingles, power lines, chimney bricks, etc.)
won't fall on the run and possibly injure the dog.
If something were to fall on the run and possibly prevent opening the door,
you should have a heavy duty wire cutter, in case the dog was trapped inside
and had to be freed.
∑ Be sure and comfort your animals during a disaster.
They are frightened too, and having you near to give them a hug will help. It
will probably do a lot to help you too. If an animal is not ready to be
comforted though, do not force it. This is especially true for cats. Let an animal
come to you when it is ready.
∑ Know where the animal shelters or animal rescue organizations are in
You may need to visit them after a disaster to look for a missing animal. It
is important to start looking for a missing animal as soon as you realize it
is gone, as some shelters may not be able to house for a very long time large
numbers of displaced animals that arrive during a disaster.
PETS AND HURRICANES : Why Pet Owners Must Plan
Public shelters for people will not accept pets. If you wait until the last
minute to evacuate, you may have no choice but to go to a public shelter. If
such a situation should force you to leave pets behind, please prepare your
children and other family members for the fact that their pets may not survive or
may be irretrievably lost before you are able or permitted to return to your
There is no way to know how long it will be before you are permitted back
after the storm. Frightened animals quickly slip out open doors, broken windows
or other damaged areas of your home opened by the storm. Lost pets are likely
to die from exposure, starvation, predators, contaminated food and water and on
the road where they can endanger others. Even normally friendly animals of
different species should not be allowed together unattended since the stress of
the storm may cause distinct behavior changes.
REMEMBER: If you must evacuate . . . then conditions are not only unsafe
for you but unsafe for other living creatures as well!!! Develop Your Written
Plan Now. A written DISASTER PLAN will help you and your pets survive. Identify
your evacuation area and level to determine if and when you would have to
evacuate. If you are located in a storm surge flood plain, the decision to
evacuate will depend on the category of the storm. Always prepare for one category
higher than the one being forecast. A hurricane often increases in strength just
before making landfall.
Your goal should be to evacuate to a safe location. Friends or relatives in a
safe area are your best choice. If they are unable to house both you and your
pets, arrange shelter for your pets at a veterinarian or kennel close to your
evacuation location so that you will be able to have as much contact with
them as possible. You and your pets will fare better if you are together.
If you plan to go to a motel, determine in advance whether pets are welcome
and what, if any, special rules are applicable. Make plans well in advance of
the hurricane season for cows, horses, sheep, etc. Additional preparedness
guidelines may be obtained from Town of Hempstead Animal Control , or the Nassau
County Chapter of the Red Cross.
If You Must Evacuate Leave Early ! An unnecessary trip is far better than
waiting too long to leave safely! All animals should have secure carriers or
collapsible cages for large dogs, as well as collars, leashes, rabies tags and
owner ID tags.
Carriers should be large enough for the animals to stand comfortably and turn
around. ID must be on the carrier. Train your pets to become familiar with
their carriers ahead of time. Then the carrier will be a secure and comforting
refuge if the animal is required to live in it for days-even weeks-after the
Before hurricane season begins on June 1 of each year, make sure all your
pets have current immunizations and take these records with you if you must
evacuate. Photograph each of your pets prior to June 1 every year and include these
pictures with your pets' immunization records.
Your pet survival kit should include ample food (at least 2 weeks supply),
water/food bowls, medications, specific care instructions, newspapers and
plastic trash bags for handling waste, cat litter, brushes, combs and other hygiene
items, toys and other comfort items, muzzles if necessary.
A manual can opener is a necessity. All belongings should be marked with
If you are not evacuating your pets to a commercial animal facility, you
should also include first aid supplies for your pets in the survival kit. Ask your
vet for an emergency care pamphlet for animals. If you plan to shelter your
pets at a kennel or clinic, call before evacuating to determine if space is
available. Some kennels will accept reservations early with prepaid fees.
Allow sufficient time to travel from the kennel to your evacuation location
after making certain that your animals are secure. If you have snakes or other
exotic pets, contact local pet stores or zoological gardens, in a safe area,
for assistance in sheltering your pet.
Again, be prepared to supply appropriate housing for the pet (not glass) and
other supplies necessary to sustain the pet for at least 2 weeks. The facility
you choose should be operated by knowledgeable, capable staff and the
location should be high, dry and of sturdy construction.
Throughout the evacuation and the storm, your pets will need reassurance from
you. Remain calm, keep as close to their normal routine as possible and speak
to them regularly in a calm, reassuring voice. If you must evacuate without
time to prepare your pet, Animal Control will house your pet. This space is
limited and should be ONLY a last resort.
If You Can Stay At Home It is just as important to adequately plan for your
pets even if you don't have to evacuate. Carriers, collars with proper ID and
leashes should be maintained for your pets at all times. Your pets will be most
comfortable and secure in their carriers in a safe area of your home until
the storm has passed.
If they are not secured during the storm and your house is damaged, your pets
may escape and become disoriented, since normal landmarks and scent trails
could be obliterated. If your pets become lost, proper ID will ensure their
return to you. Place your pet food and medications in watertight containers in a
cool, dry, dark place. Store adequate water for your pet.
Your water source may become contaminated. (To purify water, add 2 drops of
household bleach per quart of water, mix, seal tightly, let stand for 30
minutes before drinking.) If you bring plants into the home before a storm, be
careful not to allow pets access to them since many ornamental plants are poisonous
After The Storm .Walk your pets on a leash until they become reoriented to
CAUTION: Downed power lines and other debris pose real dangers to you and
Do not allow pets to consume food or water which may have become
contaminated. Be particularly careful in using candles or oil lamps around pets. Never
leave them unattended.
When you know you have done everything you can do to protect all members of
the family, disaster preparedness will give you tremendous peace of mind.
BE SMART AND LEARN TO SAVE AND PROTECT YOUR PET
Evacuate out of the area of the storm! Visit friends or relatives who will
let your pets come with you. Create a list of boarding kennels within a 100 mile
radius of your home. If you don't have friends or relatives to evacuate to,
call these pet friendly hotels and make a reservation.
Best Western Inns 1-800-528-1234
Clarion Hotels 1-800-252-7466
Comfort Inns 1-800-228-5150
Days Inn 1-800-329-7466
Econo Lodge 1-800-553-2666
Holiday Inn 1-800-465-4329
Howard Johnson 1-800-465-4329
La Quinta Inn 1-800-531-5900
Masters Econo Inns 1-800-633-3434
Motel 6 1-800-466-8356
Quality Inn 1-800-228-5151
Ramada Inn 1-800-228-2828
Red Roof Inn 1-800-843-7663
Residence Inn 1-800-331-3131
Roadway Inn 1-800-228-2000
Sleep Hotels 1-800-753-3746
Super 8 Motels 1-800-800-8000
For excellent information on planning for a disaster for your companion animal (including other kinds of disasters), CLICK HERE. Donít forget to click on the other links on this page for additional information.
For a great article from MSNBC on planning for disasters, CLICK HERE.
The SPCA of Tampa Bay provides local hurricane preparedness information, and also provides information on how you can become involved in the Florida Disaster Animal Response Team. For more information, CLICK HERE.