Isaias, the first major storm of the summer is a wake-up call for all pet owners. So let’s again review my standard pet care advice for hurricane season.
1. The most important message is not to leave your pets behind and that entails planning ahead! Basically, if you are asked to leave your home, then it is not safe to leave your pets in it. They can become trapped, drown, or escape the home, only to end up in the mayhem of a storm. Do not assume any storm shelter accepts pets — many do not. Therefore, you must arrange a predetermined safe place to take your pets. My advice is to call your veterinarian and ask if their hospital is in a flood zone and if they make special boarding accommodations in case of a disaster. Having experienced the four-hurricane season of 2004, I have made sure my hospital has a gas generator, plenty of space, and emergency supplies to accommodate evacuees. Ask your local shelter if they provide emergency boarding, the Humane Society of Polk has always been ready to help displaced pet owners and their pets. Also, ask kennel facilities in your area that can receive pets as well. Another option is asking relatives or friends in different areas if they would be willing to help you. Lastly, call hotels near where you are going and ask if you can bring your pets in. 2. After you come up with your safe haven plans, it is time to prepare an emergency kit for your pet. The kit should be easy to carry and be clearly labeled. A duffel bag will do. These are my suggestions on what to include: - 5 to 7 days worth of canned food. If you prefer dry food, please rotate every 3 months or it could be stale. - Roll of paper towels and a couple of plastic bags for clean-ups. - Pet first-aid bag with artificial tears solution, topical burn/cut cream, Feliway/DAP pheromone calming spray, a week’s worth of any medications your pets are currently taking. - Extra collar, harness, and a leash. - Photocopies of your pet’s vaccination/medical records and their picture in a sealed zip lock bag. - Bottled water. - Collapsible feeding and watering dish. - Towel or pillowcase (useful for scooping a fearful cat or small dog). Once you finish your pet’s kit, make sure you assemble one for the humans too. 3- The next step is to make sure your pet is properly identified. A microchip is the best option here and can be done at your veterinarian’s office without sedation. If it is a last-moment situation, then use a Sharpie marker to put your phone number on the collar and on the non-hairy areas of the pet’s belly. If you are staying in your home, please bring all the pets inside with you. If the pets are suffering from storm anxiety, keep them crated or in a small inner room away from windows. Keep a battery-operated radio to provide much-needed news updates, but also background noise. Take your pet to your veterinarian for a pre-storm check-up.