With Hurricane Isaac bearing down on the Gulf Coast this week, it’s a good time to think about making preparations to keep your family and your pets safe.
In those places where evacuations are necessary, it is important to have a plan for your pet too. Many shelters will not accept pets due to health concerns, but leaving them behind may expose them to unsafe conditions. As the Humane Society says “if it’s not safe for you, it’s not safe for your pets.”
- Call your veterinarian’s office and see if they know of shelters that are accepting pets.
- FEMA management (or your local state agency) may also have set up shelters in your area that are pet-friendly. In Mississippi, MEMA released a list of shelters and those that are pet-friendly are listed.
- You might try asking your local animal shelter as well. They may know of a place that will accept pets or may be have temporary care set up for pets in the area.
- Find hotels or bed and breakfasts in the area where you are evacuating to that are pet friendly. I Googled “pet friendly hotels” and several websites came up. But here is a list of websites that the Humane Society recommends:
- Make plans to stay with a friend or family member that won’t mind that you are bringing your pets.
Things to Take To A Shelter
If you find a shelter that will accept pets, be sure to bring along items to make your pet feel safe and comfortable as well as keep him contained in a strange environment. Be sure to label all items with your name and contact information as well as the dog’s name. If you are staying with a family member or friend and have to leave your pet at a shelter, include that contact information on your dog as well. Be sure your pet has a clear identification tag with your contact information and/or a microchip. If you get separated from your pet, this is the best way of getting him/her back. If it were me, I’d also take a cell phone photo of my dog just to be sure I had one with me if I needed it.
Things you may want to bring include
- Leash and collar
- Food (enough for a few weeks) If it’s dry food, keep it in a plastic container to keep it from getting wet or infested.
- Water (enough for a few weeks)
- Water and food bowl
- Bedding. While this isn’t necessary, it may help your dog to feel more comfortable to have a familiar item to lay on.
- Any medications (enough for a few weeks)
- Vaccination/medical records
- Puppy/piddle pads or towels. You might need these if your pet has to stay in the crate for a long time.
Staying at Home
Those of us outside of the immediate danger zone of the Gulf Coast will ride out the storm at home. We are expecting high winds and rain, so we will hunker down in the house and wait out the weather. If you’re staying at home, remember to keep your pets indoors with you, bringing them in at the first hint of bad weather. It’s a good idea to put together a kit for your dogs and have it handy in case you need it. Some of the same things that you would take to a shelter should be in this kit. Food, water, medication, medical records, and leash and collar. In case the storm knocks out the electricity, be sure to have extra food and water stored – enough at least a week. We will probably keep our dogs crated through most of the storm. They are both very storm afraid, and this will help to keep them safe and calm.
Here are some webistes that provide more information on taking care of pets during a disaster.