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Pet Disaster Tips

Disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes and floods don’t just affect you — they also affect your pets. And your pets depend on you for their safety. There are many ways to be “Pet Prepared,” but you must think ahead and start planning NOW. Your local Humane Society or your veterinarian can help you. During a disaster, if you see an injured or stranded animal that needs help, contact your local animal control officer or animal shelter.

AP Photo/The Times-Picayune, Eliot Kamenitz

Brett Gervis checks into the Hilton Hotel in downtown New Orleans, with Ren, his brother’s dog, as Hurricane Ivan bared down on the Gulf Coast Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2004. The Hilton allowed people to check in with their pets. Ren would have been much safer in a pet carrier, as recommended in our “Before the Disaster” tips below.

Contact your veterinarian or local humane society for information on preparing your pets for an emergency. Also, consult our Pet Disaster Kit and Emergency Kit lists at right, so that you can be prepared for any weather emergency.

• Don’t forget your pet when preparing a family disaster plan.
• Make sure that your pets are current on their vaccinations. Pet shelters may require proof of vaccines.
• Have a current photograph.
• Keep a collar with identification on your pet and have a leash on hand to control your pet.
• Have a properly-sized pet carrier for each animal – carriers should be large enough for the animal to stand and turn around.
• As you plan your evacuation strategy, don’t forget your pet! Specialized pet shelters, animal control shelters, veterinary clinics and friends and relatives out of harm’s way are ALL potential refuges for your pet during a disaster. But don’t forget to contact the shelter or other refuge for your pet well ahead of time, and be sure that all parties agree on the care for your pet if you must evacuate.
• If you plan to shelter your pet – work it into your evacuation route planning.

• Animals brought to a pet shelter are required to have: Proper identification collar and rabies tag, proper identification on all belongings, a carrier or cage, a leash, an ample supply of food, water and food bowls, any necessary medications, specific care instructions and newspapers or trash bags for clean-up.
• Bring pets indoors well in advance of a storm – reassure them and remain calm.
• Pet shelters will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Call ahead and determine availability.

• Walk pets on a leash until they become re-oriented to their home – often familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and pets could easily be confused and become lost. Also, downed power lines, reptiles brought in with high water and debris can all pose a threat for animals after a disaster.
• If pets cannot be found after a disaster, contact the local animal control office to find out where lost animals can be recovered. Bring along a picture of your pet if possible.
• After a disaster animals can become aggressive or defensive – monitor their behavior.

Proper identification including immunization records, id tag and collar
• Adequate supply of pet food and treats
• Drinkable water, preferably stored in plastic bottles
• Can opener for any canned food
• Pet medications and medical records in a waterproof container
• Sturdy leashes, harnesses and/or carriers so you can move your pets safely and they can’t escape (remember they may be scared and may act different than usual)
• Current photos of your pet in case they get lost
• Pet beds and toys, if there is room
• Your veterinarian’s name and contact information

When an impending storm has been verified, make sure you have the following supplies on hand. Of course, you should review this list beforehand when you have time – and a clear head!

• Bottled water (1 gal. per person per day, for 5-7 days)
• Water purification tablets
• Instant beverages
• Powdered fruit drinks
• Non-perishable foods (canned or packaged)
• Manual can opener
• Disposable plates, cups and utensils
• Cooler with ice
• Special diet foods
• Provisions for pets – extra food and water

• 5-7 day supply of prescription medications auxiliary medical equipment (oxygen, medication, scooter battery, hearing aids, mobility aids, etc.)
• Medical alert bracelet
• First aid kit

• Ax or chain saw (fuel, if necessary)
• Hammer, screwdriver, nails and screws
• Ladder, bucket, mop, broom and scrub brush
• Shovel, rake and wheelbarrow
• Masking/duct tape
• Non-electric clock
• Plastic trash bags
• Portable generator
• Portable outdoor camping stove/grill (fuel, if necessary)
• Fire extinguisher
• Flashlight with extra batteries
• Scissors and sewing kit
• Sandbags
• All-purpose cleaner
• Sanitary items, such as toilet paper and soap
• Battery-operated radio

• Cash, credit cards, checkbook, ATM cards
• Change of clothing
• Childcare items (diapers, food/formula, etc.)
• Fill automobile gas tank

Pet Safety: Read a special message from Meteorologist Katrina Voss

Data, photos and information provided by the AP, NOAA, FEMA, FEMA for Kids, and AccuWeather, Inc.
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