With the 2012 Hurricane Season already jumping on us, maybe we better get prepared. Don’t wait until the storm is bearing down on your area to decide how you are going to protect your animals.
News reports to date have noted that the Gulf Coast and Florida, in the past five years, have skimmed through hurricane season with just some rains and heavy breezes. Too many of us may be sitting back at this point worrying about other things rather than the start of another ugly time with Mother Nature and her moods. How lucky will we be this year?
Look around you, publications filled with intense information on what to do in all phases of a hurricane. If you haven’t started making hurricane plans, or you figure the ones from the last couple of hurricane seasons will do, think again.
That kit you put together—is it outdated? Do you need fresh items in it? Do you have a written-down plan, step-by-step, on how to leave if you have to evacuate? Where will you go and when should you leave the area? Time to start thinking again.
If you have pets, you have a second family to prepare for in the event of a hurricane.
If you’ve had pets for many years, then you should be ahead of the game. You would already have crates, carriers, leashes, collars, food–canned and dry, bowls, bottles of water and most important, their beds and toys.
With birds and small pocket pets, you know the type of supplies and food you need. If your list is not up-to-date, get it there.
Vital—have your dogs and cats micro-chipped and if you have to evacuate—be sure you have photos, paperwork and health records for your animals. If you don’t have your dogs or cats micro-chipped, (shelter adoptions provide microchips), visit your veterinarian, and for a small fee, get the handy little marker put in your pets.
If you have old animals, or animals with health problems and on medications, it would be best to find an animal clinic out of the storm line and leave your animal there. Check boarding kennels, but reserve early for they fill up fast if weather begins to threaten. Check all your animal-loving friends who may be out of harm’s way.
Remember, emergency shelters do not allow pets, only service animals. But, each year, I see more emergency shelters added which do allow pets.
At all costs, do not leave your pets behind. When it must be done—settle them in a windowless room or hall or on a second floor. Create a nest or protected area with familiar toys, bedding, and lots of food and water. Remove any objects that might harm them. Separate dogs and cats, as best you can.
Well ahead of hurricane season, check for hotels that allow animals. Worst case scenario, don’t suddenly be miles from home, look in the backseat, and realize……”We forgot the animals!!”
(Pat Chiri can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)