As we enter the hurricane season, it is important to have a plan in place for pets before a weather emergency strikes.
Here are some tips:
♦ Be sure your pets’ vaccinations are up to date and you have a pet health record at hand. This is especially important for those owners who plan to board their pets, since most boarding facilities will require proof of current rabies and distemper vaccinations before accepting the pet.
♦ Make sure your pet is wearing a properly fitted collar with current ID and rabies tags at all times. Have a leash on hand. A leash can help keep your pet secured at your side in the event of an evacuation.
♦ Purchase a carrier or crate for each pet. Airline-type shipping crates, which are available at many department stores and pet supply shops, are best as they are lightweight and yet strong enough to keep the pet secure within; cardboard carriers are not suitable. Any carrier should be large enough for the pet to be able to stand up and turn around.
♦ Prepare a pet kit with a supply of pet food, bottled water, kitty litter, newspapers, plastic bags, cleansers and disinfectants. Always keep a plentiful supply of any medications your pet might need.
♦ Make some telephone calls to determine your options should it ever become necessary to evacuate. Unfortunately, public evacuation shelters cannot allow pets, so if you plan to evacuate to an American Red Cross shelter you should explore other arrangements for your pet. They cannot be left in the car if you go to a shelter.
♦ Survey boarding kennels to determine which are located in high, safe areas. Inquire as to who stays on the premises with the animals in the event of a weather emergency and what provisions would be made if the kennel should be required to evacuate. Check with veterinary clinics to locate those with boarding facilities.
♦ Consult with dependable friends or relatives who live in a high, safe area to see if they would be willing to provide temporary care for your pet. Be sure your benefactor would be able to keep your pet inside the house.
♦ Call motels if you plan to take your pet with you during an evacuation. You may wish to check with several locally, out of flood-prone areas, and with motels further inland. Ask if they allow pets and, if so, if there are any restrictions with regard to size and number of pets allowed.
If you do not evacuate and stay in your home:
♦ Buy ample quantities of pet food, bottled water and kitty litter when purchasing your other emergency supplies.
♦ Insure that you have on hand any needed medications. If you know your pet to be overly excitable or nervous by nature, check with your veterinarian about possible tranquilizers. These should be administered only under a veterinarian’s direction and only in the recommended dosage.
♦ Have on hand plenty of newspapers, plastic bags, cleansers and disinfectants to properly handle pet wastes. Prepare an area for your pet to use — a bathroom, kitchen, utility room or other tiled area is best as it can be most easily cleaned and sanitized. It should be away from windows.
♦ Bring your pet indoors well in advance of the storm. Reassure it with a soothing voice and calm manner.
♦ Once indoors, keep your pet away from windows. Allow it the freedom to choose its own secure place within the household, but do keep track of its whereabouts at all times.
♦ Take caution in allowing pets outdoors after the storm has passed. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and your pet could easily be confused and become lost. Downed power lines and reptiles brought in with high water could present real dangers to your pet.
♦ Birds must eat daily to survive. Use special food dispensers if you must leave them behind.
♦ Water for pets should be left in either bathtubs or other sturdy containers that will not spill.
♦ Never leave a cat with a dog even if the two are normally friendly.
♦ Provide access to high places, such as counter tops, in case flooding occurs.