Hurricane preparations for pet owners - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Preparations for pet owners

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When a storm approaches, it's important to remember to look out for your pets, too. After all, they are members of the family.

Here are some things to think about both before and after a storm hits to keep your pets safe.

Before the storm

Pet owners need to have a plan of action for their pets. Most public shelters in the Tampa Bay area cannot admit persons with pets, so you'll need to plan ahead. Determine your best option for where to leave your pet. Here are some ideas:

  • Boarding kennels that are not in an evacuation zone
  • Friends or relatives who can provide temporary care inside their home
  • Motels that allow pets (be sure to check on any restrictions concerning pets)

Some kennels have certain requirements for boarding your pet. Please familiarize yourself with these and make arrangements accordingly. Be prepared to show proof of vaccinations when dropping your pet off at a kennel.

Remember, don't leave your pet alone during a storm. The Humane Society of the United States warns that animals left behind in a disaster can easily get hurt, lost, or worse. And if you evacuate, you have no idea how long you'll be gone, so it's not safe to leave your pets alone. They also say if you must evacuate, go early, so that you'll be able to do so with your animals safely in tow.

After the storm

The Humane Society recommends making sure your pets aren't allowed to run loose after a storm. Even if they do on a regular basis, familiar landmarks and smells might be displaced by the storm, meaning pets can easily get lost. They say you should keep your dogs on a leash and your cats inside.

Experts also say to be patient with pets after a disaster. They recommend trying to get them back into their normal routines as quickly as possible, but be ready for any behavioral problems that may develop as a result of the stress they experience.

Pet owner's pre-storm shopping list

When a hurricane threatens, you'll need to have essential supplies on hand for your pet, whether you are away from home for a day or a week.  Get these items in advance so you'll be prepared in the event of a storm.

The following is a checklist of items to keep in your pet supply kit, according to the SPCA of Tampa Bay:

  • Collar with tag(s) and a sturdy leash
  • Any medications necessary
  • Medical records and vaccination information
  • A first aid kit
  • Carrier for transporting
  • Crate for securing your pet inside
  • Two-week supply of food and water
  • Manual can opener (for wet food)
  • Ziplock bags for treats, important papers, and toys
  • Cat litter, liners, and a litter box
  • Plastic trash bags to handle waste
  • Newspaper and paper towels for clean-ups
  • Brushes and/or combs
  • Toys and special comfort items
  • Muzzle (if necessary) 
  • Labels for all your pet's belongings
  • A list of pet identification information, including your animal's full description, veterinarian's contact information, and picture of your pet

For more information and a free brochure for pet owners, contact the SPCA of Tampa Bay

Large animals mean extra planning

People with large animals need to make special plans in case a hurricane strikes.  Here are some recommendations from the Sunshine State's Horse Council:

  • Leave early if you must evacuate with your large animals.  Keep in mind that livestock trailers are unstable in high winds, and traffic will move slowly along evacuation routes.
  • Some people keep animals at a boarding location that's separate from their home.  Find out if the animals are located in a storm surge area and make plans to move animals to a safer area.
  • Even if you are not in an area subject to flooding, you may want to consider evacuating horses if they are maintained in stables or small pastures, as they will be unable to avoid debris and collapsing buildings.
  • The safest place for large animals to weather a storm is in a large pasture.

For information on disaster preparations for large animal owners and a searchable emergency evacuation resource list, please click here to visit the Sunshine State Horse Council's website .

Additional links

Need help finding more info on how to get your pet prepared for hurricane season?  Here's a list of links that can help:

Some Bay Area counties have specific instructions and advice for pet owners to follow when it comes to hurricanes.  For specific information on pet-friendly shelters and county-by-county tips to keep your pet safe during a storm, click on your county's name:

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