Keeping your family safe is one of the highest priorities during natural disasters such as a hurricane, and that includes your animal friends — dogs, cats, and other pets besides. Unfortunately, dealing with the stress of making sure your human and animal relatives are protected can be a tough thing to handle. However, with some precautions and planning, you can be assured that you are giving the correct care to all members of your family.
One of the first things you should do is make sure that your pet can be identified in the eventuality that you lose them. One of the ways that you can do this is to make sure that they have a collar with a tag on it, and replace old tags if your address or telephone number have been updated recently. If you have the means, another investment might be to get your pet microchipped, according to Fox 13 News. The microchip goes underneath the pet’s skin and allows veterinary clinics to scan them to see who should be contacted.
PACK AN EMERGENCY KIT
The next thing to do is make sure you have the proper emergency kit assembled for your animals, just as you should assemble for your human family members. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, there are multiple precautions you should take when preparing to care for your pets. For starters, make sure that you have at least a week’s worth of food and safe drinking water for your pets.
You will also want to make sure that your emergency kit has recent pictures of your pet in case it gets lost, as a way to ask people if they’ve located your animal buddy in the event you don’t have access to digital pictures from the internet or your cellphone. The Federal Emergency Management Agency also suggests that you bring sanitary items, such as shampoo, pet litter, a litter box, and any other items that will help keep your pet hygienic during the hurricane. Make sure to pack leashes, harnesses, pet carriers, toys, and any other items that may keep your pet comforted for the chaotic time ahead. Last, one of the most important items you should bring with you is your pet’s medicine and medical records.
MAKE SURE YOUR PET IS VACCINATED
Speaking of medical records, one of the most important things you can do to not only ensure the safety of your own pet but the safety of other people and their pets is making sure your own pet has been properly and fully vaccinated. There are different vaccines for different animals, but for dogs, a list of core vaccinations includes rabies, distemper, adenovirus-2, parvovirus, and sometimes parainfluenza. For cats, the list includes feline herpesvirus, calicivirus, panleukopenia, and for cats that are one year old or younger, leukemia virus (via GoodRx Health).
The first set of vaccinations is expected to cost $10-$100, and there are a variety of clinics across the United States where you can get your pet vaccinated for free or at lower cost. These clinics include government pet agencies, nonprofit organizations, mobile clinics, veterinarian colleges, or charity events, according to GoodRx Health.
BE MINDFUL OF YOUR EMOTIONS
Hurricanes can be extremely stressful situations, and as a result, it can be very easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless as a result of the situation around you. But one of the most important things that you can do is try to be mindful of your emotions. Just like humans, animals can sense feelings, and if you are stressed out during the storm, this can also stress out your animals and negatively affect their health, according to ESPN Southwest Florida.
A life-threatening hurricane is going to cause everyone at least some stress, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Stress can sometimes be a good motivator to take action, but there are a variety of mindfulness techniques that can help you keep calm and properly deal with the situation rather than panic. One of those techniques you can do is focus on your breathing and trying to calm yourself down, according to Hawai’i Pacific Health.
HAVE AN EVACUATION PLAN
If you are planning to evacuate your home during the time period the storm will hit, you should most definitely do your research when it comes to making sure you know your pet can come with you. If you have a service dog, all shelters are legally obligated to accept your pet into their facilities, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, most shelters don’t accept any other type of pets. It is a good idea to figure out in advance where the nearest pet-friendly shelter is.
The FDA also recommends that you contact your emergency management agency for information about where to go if you are bringing pets, and to figure out if you need to give these pet-friendly shelters a notification before arrival. If you cannot find such shelter, it may be a good idea to look for local kennels, pet-friendly hotels, motels, or family members who are not in the path of the hurricane who are willing to house you. The most important thing to do is to at least look into your options and start to formulate a plan.
THE LAST RESORT
Sadly, some people may not have the means to accommodate their pets during an event as stressful as a hurricane, and they are forced to leave their pets behind. Though it is absolutely not recommended that you go this route, your life is the most important thing you should worry about, and that should always come first. According to ESPN Southwest Florida, some of the precautions you can take in this situation include making sure your pet is in a room with no windows, they have comfort items such as blankets and toys, and they have food and water so they can survive until the storm passes over. You should always evaluate all your options to make sure your pet is safe.
If you choose to stay home with your pet (which is absolutely not recommended for either party), you should always take the necessary actions that will keep you and your animal friends safe. The Humane Society recommends that you find a safe room where you can all be together, and to still prepare an emergency kit for you, your family, and your pets. Always remember that your life is the most valuable thing you are responsible for, and potentially devastating natural disasters like hurricanes are never easy for anyone, but by doing the advance planning and research you can make the best decisions for everyone in your family, including those adorable bundles of joy we call our pets.