Hurricane season begins June 1st. After last year’s deadly hurricane season, it makes sense to have a disaster plan in place for your family AND your pets. Being prepared can save your pets’ lives.
If you must evacuate, you should make every attempt to evacuate your pets as well. Leaving pets behind can result in injury or worse! Before a disaster happens, you should plan a safe place to take your pets.
NOTE: Red Cross disaster shelters cannot accept pets due to states’ health and safety regulations. Only service animals are allowed in Red Cross Shelters!
Find hotels and motels outside the immediate area that will accept pets. Find out if there are any restrictions on size, number, or species. Keep a list of pet friendly places — including phone numbers — with your other emergency preparedness supplies. This way, if you have to evacuate in an emergency, you can call ahead for reservations.
Ask friends and family outside the immediate area if they can shelter your animals. Multiple pets may be more comfortable if kept together, but you may be forced to house them separately. You may also want to look into boarding facilities, veterinarian’s offices, and animal shelters. These locations may be overburdened during a disaster, and should probably be a last resort.
If your pets are evacuating with you, it will help your departure go more smoothly if you have your pet supplies organized and prepared. You’ll need food, water, and bowls; any medications and medical records; sturdy collars and leashes with identification information; carriers for smaller pets. Also pack photos of your pets in case they get lost. Keep your supplies in sturdy containers that are easy to carry — large plastic bins with secure lids are always a good choice.
Remember that your pets may act differently in a stressful situation. Keep collars and identification on them at all times, and keep them on a leash or in a carrier if you are not in a secure room or location.
Warnings are issued as far in advance as possible. You may have days, you may have hours to act, but if you are prepared, you can act to protect your four-legged family members. It can’t hurt to arrange with a trusted friend or neighbor to help you evacuate your pets in an emergency.