While the East coast braces itself for Hurricane Irene, preparedness becomes a priority not just for man but for man’s best friend as well. As their caretakers, it is our responsibility to ensure safety of our pets especially in adverse conditions like these. There are 3 stages to Hurricane preparedness – Before, During and After. With detailed planning and sufficient precautions, the stress of being subjected to aggressive natural forces can be lessened to a great degree, if not completely averted. Here are a few tips to help your pet stay safe during the destructive weather conditions approaching this weekend:
This is the most crucial stage as the number of precautions taken here can help relieve your stress and your pet’s anxiety in the days to come.
- Carry a current photograph of your pet with you.
- Collars let people know who your dog belongs to, where they live, what vaccines they have received and most importantly who needs to be contacted in the event that your pet gets lost. If you are taking your pet with you, it is important to have at least two leashes – one for them and a back-up if it becomes needed.
- Ensure your dog is up-to-date on his/her vaccines. This is essential if you are asked to evacuate and are required to find a shelter, pet shelters or animal housing facilities may require proof of vaccines.
- If possible, try to take your pets with you! If you are to be evacuated, it would be better to look for shelters that accept pets. Research to see which shelters accept pets BEFORE the storm hits. After the hurricane, it could be an ordeal to hunt for a shelter that allows pets. According to the National Hurricane Center, 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.
- Ensure you secure accommodations for your pet. Pets that are released or left behind often become victims of starvation, predators, contaminated food or water, accidents, or exposure to the elements.
- It is imperative to have a pet carrier to help you in quick evacuation. Have a properly-sized pet carrier for each animal – carriers should be large enough for the animal to stand and turn around. Carriers also enable to keep your pet with you. Shelters usually require pets to be in a cage of some sort to stay at the shelter with their owners.
- Do not forget to have at least two weeks of your pet’s medications in order to make sure there is no interruption in taking them before, during or after a hurricane as clean-up begins.
- Food and Water are crucial supplies to store for both yourself and your pet. It is advisable to carry at least two weeks supply with you. During storms and after it, it is sometimes hard to come by both of these necessities.
- During the evacuation, secure your pet with a collar/harness and leash or in a pet carrier to safely transport them. You may also wish to bring a muzzle if your pet doesn’t react well in stressful situations.
- Do not forget to anchor outside objects that cannot be brought inside to avoid injury to animals, humans, or property.
Your presence of mind and ability to stay calm greatly impact your pet’s behavior. Go through these tips to help you through the time when the hurricane actually hits your area:
- 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 news papers or trash bags for clean-up.
- Bring pets indoor well in advance of a storm – reassure them and remain calm.
- It is recommended to provide the following information to pet shelter workers: name; species and breed; sex; color; distinctive markings; age; microchip identification number; vaccination records; health conditions and required medication.
People often dismiss this stage not realizing that the clean up process brings with it equal prospects of danger to your beloved pet. Here are a few precautions you can take:
- Do not let your pets stray after they come home. Walk them 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 you cannot find your pet, contact the local animal control office to find out where lost animals can be recovered. Bring along a picture of your pet if possible.
- It is normal for animals to become aggressive or defensive after a disaster. If this happens, stay calm and monitor their behavior. Reassurance goes a long way in helping them get their bearings back.
- Shade is equally important along with water for animals.
- Do not panic if your pet does not eat initially. Stressed animals often avoid food.
- Return home only after authorities advise that it is safe to return.
- Use caution when returning home and walking on higher ground since insects, snakes, and other animals may have found refuge there.
The National Hurricane Center recommends the following in your Pet Disaster Supply kit:
• Proper identification including immunization records
• Ample supply of food and water
• A carrier or cage
• Muzzle, collar and leash
With all the necessary precautions, both you and your pet will not just be prepared for Irene but are ready to face the storm!