We are getting deeper into hurricane season, and with the threat of Hurricane Dorian on the horizon, we want to make sure we are prepared to keep our pets as safe as possible. As of right now we are still unsure how Tampa will be affected, but it is always better to be prepared for the worst.
Have an evacuation plan
In the hustle and bustle of preparing to evacuate, sometimes our pets can be overlooked. Don’t forget to include your pets in your evacuation plan. Make sure you have space for them in your vehicle, and wherever you are planning on going will take the pets. Not all of the shelters set up for evacuees allow pets, and will turn you away.
Up to date microchip information
Unfortunately, many dogs are separated from their owners during the craziness of a hurricane. We want to do everything we can to make sure that those lost pets make it back to their owners. Most of us know the importance of having your pet microchipped. When a lost dog is picked up by a vet or shelter, the first thing they do is scan the dog for a chip. However, if the microchip information is out of date (you’ve moved or changed your phone number), the registration has expired, or if the chip was never registered in the first place, it makes it much harder if not impossible to locate the owner. If you are unsure if your chip is current, you can take your dog to someone with a microchip reader (vet, shelter, and some pet stores may have them) to get the chip number, then call the company and make sure the information is up to date. It is also a good idea to get your pet scanned regularly anyways, as the chips can move throughout the dog’s body, and can even fall out over time.
Have a bag of supplies prepared
Have a bag prepared that you can grab and go in case you have to evacuate last minute, or if you plan on staying put you can have everything you need in one place.
- Make sure you have plenty of food and water stocked up for your pet. Whether you end up evacuating, or hunkering down and riding out the storm, you want to make sure you have enough food and water to last at least 7 days.
- Have something to keep them occupied, like chew bones or antlers. Your dog won’t understand why they are stuck inside the house or hotel room or wherever you end up, and giving them something to keep them busy can help to keep them calm.
- Current vet information
- Wound cleaner and bandage. You want to be prepared if your dog gets injured during the storm.
- Muzzle. If your dog is injured or panicked, they don’t realize people are there to help them and they can lash out. It is good to have a muzzle handy to protect yourself and rescuers.
- Kennel/crate. Traveling with a pet in a crate is always safer than having them loose in the car, and it is even more important when tensions are high and things are chaotic. In addition to travel, wherever you evacuate to will most likely require your animal to be contained/crated for safety.
Have medical information together
It’s always good to have important documents together, and your pet is no exception. You should have their current shot records handy, as most places that accept dogs will only take them with proof of current vaccines. Also have any information on medical conditions or medications they may be on. They even make collars and tags now with tiny flash drives on them to store your dog’s information in case they get lost. As a side note, they also now make GPS tracking collars to help make it easier to locate your pet if you are separated.
Have identification on your pet
The easiest way to find the owner of a lost pet is if the dog is wearing a collar with a current phone number. Not everyone knows to get the dog scanned for a microchip. However, collars and tags can fall off. As a backup, if you are worried you will be separated from your pet, take a sharpie and write your phone number on their belly. This way, if the tags fall off, your phone number is visible and won’t wash off in the water.
Create a pet relief station
If you decide to stay put during the storm, there’s a good chance you’ll be staying inside for an extended period of time. You can create an indoor pet relief area so your dogs can go to the bathroom. Lay down a tarp or kiddie pool and place sod, pet grass, or wood shavings down. Bring your dog to the area, encouraging them to go to the bathroom so they know it’s OK.
Don’t leave your pets behind
During previous hurricanes, Animal Care and Control reported that many pets are left chained to trees and parked cars as their owners left them behind. During Hurricane Irma, 49 dogs and two cats were rescued by animal control officers. Pets that are kenneled or tied up traps them, and gives them zero chance for survival. Make sure your hurricane plans, whether it be to evacuate or ride out the storm, includes your pets.