With Hurricane Florence bearing down on the East Coast we are reminded that we are at the high point of Hurricane Season. While we’re keeping our fingers crossed that the DC area will not be impacted by the storm, now is the best time to ensure that pet owners are prepared for severe weather and aftermath in order to protect their furry family members. Protecting your pet often times means preparing for the worst.
We have put together ten tips on how you can prepare and protect your pet during a hurricane. More information regarding disaster preparedness can also be found on www.ready.gov and https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/disaster-preparedness.
1. Never leave your pet chained outdoors
Pets left behind during a hurricane evacuation can easily be lost, hurt, or killed. If you are unable to take your pet with you in an emergency, consider dropping your pet off with a friend or relative in a safe area. You can also find a dog boarding facility, shelter, or animal hospital that can take your pup. Under no circumstances should you leave your pet chained outside in the elements. If it isn’t safe for you, it’s not safe for your pet.
2. Ensure your dog has an up to date ID tag on his collar and is micro-chipped
Dogs can easily get separated during the chaos of an evacuation or if they are startled on a walk and break free from their leashes. Intense weather can be scary and disorienting for animals and they may attempt to run and hide. If a dog has an ID tag with current contact information or is micro-chipped they can be more easily reunited with their owners.
3. Create a pet emergency kit
Just like your human family members, your pet should also have an emergency kit with enough food and water to last 3 to 7 days. Ensure all of your pet’s vaccine records, registration information, any adoption papers you have, and a recent photograph of your pet are in the kit. A two week supply of any medication your pet takes should also be included in case you are unable to refill the prescription. Make sure you have bowls and any waste bags you will need. Make sure you have a size appropriate carrier or crate along with any required bedding. Lastly, include some of your pet’s toys and familiar items to help reduce his stress in a new environment.
4. Have a pet friendly evacuation plan
Not all evacuation shelters may accept pets, so it is helpful to have a few possible evacuation routes planned out ahead of time. Have a list of pet friendly hotels available for the evacuation routes you may take. In case your pet needs medical attention it is also helpful to have a list of veterinarians in the locations you plan to evacuate to. If you know the shelter your family will be evacuated to, you can research dog boarding facilities near by in case the shelter is not pet friendly.
5. Ensure safe potty breaks
Hurricanes can bring intense winds and rain which often times lead to flooding, down trees and power lines, and large debris being blown about. Avoid going outside when the storm is at its worst. If possible, create a safe place for your pup to potty indoors. A kiddie pool filled with sod or puppy training pads can be a great indoor option, especially if you have a garage or mud room. Be extra cautious when you and your pup are walking outside both during and immediately after a hurricane. Heavy winds can make for dangerous conditions. Keep your dog on a shortened leash to ensure he is not accidentally walking or investigating something harmful. Avoid stagnant water as many diseases and parasites could be lurking.
6. Avoid open flames if the power goes out
When the power goes out many people reach for candles as a quick and easy solution. When pets are around it is best to avoid open flames to prevent injuries and accidents. Flash lights, battery operated lanterns, and battery operated candles or tea lights are the best options.
7. Understand the PETS Act
During a natural disaster we see a lot of misinformation shared across social media focused on the 2006 Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act, more commonly known as the PETS Act. Understanding what the PETS Act actually does and does not mandate will help you better prepare for and respond to emergencies.
The PETS Act DOES mandate that FEMA accounts for the needs of pet owners when developing disaster preparedness plans and authorizes the FEMA Director to fund emergency shelters for pets.
The PETS Act DOES NOT require hotels and motels to accept personal pets.
Per the Americans with Disabilities Act, service animals are excluded from hotel or motel pet policies. It is up to the individual pet owner to find a pet friendly shelter or hotel during a natural disaster.
8. Make a safe spot for you pup
If you know your dog is scared of loud noises, it’s likely he will be frightened of the loud noises brought by storm and high winds during the hurricane. It’s best to create a safe place for them in your home. This could be somewhere he regularly sleeps, such as a crate or bed, in a large closet away from windows, or even next to you on the couch. Consider leaving soft music or a calm TV channel playing to cover the loud noises outside.
9. Keep calm and carry on
We all know dealing with hurricane preparations and riding out a storm are stressful. But we also need to remember that our pets pick up on our moods and emotions. Animals don’t understand what’s happening, but when the person they consistently look to is starting to get upset they are more likely to panic. If you show your pets that everything is OK, you will reduce their stress. Try sticking as much to your normal routine as possible. Consider stocking up on bully sticks or other chew toys to occupy your pup. A good option for distraction is a Kong stuffed with peanut butter, kibble, and carrot slices.
10. Reach out to shelters to assist with their storm preparations
While you are preparing for a hurricane, so are all of the local animal rescues and shelters. In addition, many shelters make arrangements with those shelters directly in the path of the storm to evacuate animals and to free up space for the many animals that become separated from their owners. Many local organizations put together lists of needed supplies to properly care for the animals during and after the storm. If you would like to help, we have included two resources below:
- Lucky Dogs (local DC rescue): http://www.amazon.com/registry/wishlist/2NNVB51NNTZAS
- Humane Society of the United States Disaster Relief Fund: http://m.humanesociety.org/issues/animal_rescue/disaster_relief_fund.html
If you have any questions about our tips, send us an email at email@example.com.