In many areas of the United States, hurricane season is in full force, with people in affected areas prepping their emergency kits and bracing themselves for the onslaught.
Along with ensuring the safety of your human family, it’s critical to have a hurricane plan in place for your beloved companion animals, too. Pets are completely reliant on their guardians to keep them safe during disasters, so don’t leave it to the last minute; with some forethought and preparation, you can ensure your animals stay safe no matter what happens.
- Have a pet evacuation plan in place. Many emergency shelters and centers do not take in animals. Ask trusted friends or family outside your area if they can shelter you and your pet — or just your pet — or make a list of pet-friendly hotels. Keep this list with phone numbers in your emergency kit.
- Put together a pet emergency kit. You’ll need backup medications, enough food and bottled water for 5-7 days, dishes, favorite blankets and toys, medical and vaccination records (sealed in plastic bags), and collars/leashes. Consider a litter tray and litter for your cat and spare trash bags. Keep everything together in a backpack.
- Ensure your pet’s identification is up to date. Dogs and cats can be microchipped and traced, but ensure they also have collars with tags featuring your cell phone number for quick and easy tracking.
- Make sure you know where your pet’s carrier is stored, check that it’s intact and make sure it’s easily accessible.
- It’s a great idea to condition your animal to be comfortable and relaxed inside their carrier or transport cage; this even helps with routine vet visits or unexpected trips. Train your pet to voluntarily enter their carrier and make sure it’s a positive and comforting place.
- Order a free rescue alert sticker from your local ASPCA. These stickers are displayed on your property to let rescuers know that there are pets in your home that may need assistance. Don’t forget to write “evacuated” over the sticker if you do leave with your pets.
When a hurricane is coming
- Bring your pets inside as soon as you are aware of any warnings. Don’t wait until the conditions are “bad enough” — by then, your pet may already be spooked and difficult to locate or handle.
- If your pet feels safe inside their carrier, it’s a good idea to keep them in here early on. If conditions deteriorate rapidly, the last thing you want is to be chasing your terrified cat around a room trying to get them into their transport box. Give them their favorite toys and blankets and cover the cage to help keep them calm.
During a hurricane
- Always take your pet with you if you evacuate; you have no way of knowing how bad things will get, and it may be days or weeks before you can return to your home to check on them.
- If remaining in your home, ensure your pets cannot panic and escape or hide in any small, difficult to reach areas. Keep them in a quiet room away from windows, preferably in their carrier or transport cage.
- If the worst happens and you are forced to leave your pet, secure them in a room without large windows. Leave them with their favorite bedding and toys, and provide as much water and food as you can – preferably in self-feeding containers.
- Most importantly, stay calm; as you know, your pet will pick up on your emotions. Talk to your pet reassuringly, give them attention and lots of love.