By: Dr. Christen Woodley, DVM
The last thing any of us want is to be in the path of a hurricane. But living in the sunshine state, it is a part of our lives and a scary reality. If the time comes to evacuate it can be hard to keep thoughts straight and try not to panic, which is even more of a reason to prepare ahead of time. And you and your pet should have a buddy system, what is necessity for you is also necessity to them. And NO pet should have to be left behind
Plan ahead and gather important documents and methods of identification, such as a print out of vaccinations, rabies tag, i.d. tag, microchip tag, notes of any medical conditions, etc. The ID tag should have your pets name, your contact information, and if it has special medical alert. It is advised to also have photos of yourself with your pet so that if separated it links the two of you and possibly shows identifying features. Make sure your pet is microchipped and that the microchip company has your most recent contact information. Often on your microchip registration, it will ask you for emergency contact information outside of yourself. In this instance especially it is preferred to have a contact point outside of your immediate residential location. For essentials plan on taking bowls, 3 days or more of food and water, and any necessary medications, preferably in a container that can be airtight/watertight. If your pet is eating canned food look to see if you will need a can opener. Remember if your pet has refrigerated medication, such as insulin, you need to have ice packs and a cooler available also. If you are traveling with cats you will need litter and makeshift litter boxes, such as aluminum foil trays. In addition, you may need garbage bags and cleaning materials. Try to take an extra collar, leash, harness, etc. Since you don’t know how long you will have to be away from your home, take the next month’s dose of flea heartworm prevention so you are prepared just in case.
Many emergency shelters cannot accept pets and it is against policy at some hotels. So it is advised to try and locate either pet-friendly shelters in your area if you cannot evacuate, or pet-friendly hotels along your evacuation route. In case you are forced to be away from your home for a while, you may also need to look into the availability of boarding facilities where you live and where you plan on staying while evacuated. It is always nice to reach out to family and friends in other states if taking shelter with them is a possibility. Travel with a carrier/crate in case you do end up at a shelter or if your pets might not get along with other pets where you might be residing. Some pets actually feel safe in their crates and might appreciate the familiarity. On that note, it is wise to pack some of their toys, blankets, etc. that are familiar and have smells of you and home. Plan ahead for yourself and your pet.! A pet left behind has a much higher likelihood of injury or death. Try not to wait until last minute and do your research ahead of time so that you can leave ahead of mandatory evacuations. You cannot be too prepared!