Pet Safety During Hurricanes

We depend on our pets for love and affection and in return they depend on us to take care of them. So, with hurricane season in full force, don’t forget to have your pet’s emergency preparedness kit ready, too.

Just like humans, pets need shelter from a storm. Thousands of animals have become lost or killed in the destructive wake of a natural disaster. Making arrangements early—long before disaster strikes—will help keep your pets safe from harm.

Leaving Pets During Hurricane Evacuation

If you plan to leave your home during a storm, even if you think you may be gone only for a few hours, it is important to take your pets with you.

Pets left behind often escape and, left to fend for themselves, become victims of exposure, starvation, predators, or contaminated food and water. According to the CDC, natural disasters also increase the transmission of some diseases.

If you evacuate and leave your pet at home, you may not be able to go back for your pet if the roads are blocked or flooded. Leaving dogs tied or chained outside during a hurricane could possibly result in their death.

Hurricane Preparedness Kit For Pets

Your pet should be wearing identification at all times with your phone number in case they become lost during a hurricane or in transit. You can purchase ID tags from virtually any large retailer.

Remember to bring these supplies with you if you evacuate with your pet.

Supply Checklist

  • Proper identification
  • Proof of vaccinations (required at shelters)
  • County license rabies tag
  • A carrier or portable kennel
  • Food and water
  • Can opened (for food)
  • Food and water bowls
  • Medications
  • Muzzle, collar and leash
  • Photo of pet
  • Favorite toys
  • Blanket or bed
  • Litter box, cat litter and scoop
  • Trash bags for pet waste

The CDC offers these recommendations for preparing a disaster kit for your pet.

Pet Shelters in Florida

According to Floridadisaster.org, most shelters do not permit pets, but they do permit service animals.

Most Florida counties designate at least one pet-friendly shelter, but space is often limited and pre-registration is typically required.

Shelters and boarding facilities require current vaccination records, so be sure to keep extra copies with you at all times.

Click here for a sample Pet-Friendly Hurricane Evacuation Center Pre-Registration Form and list of required vaccinations.

If there are no shelters in your city that accept pets, or if they are all full, you will need to make other arrangements. In this case, it is best not to wait until the last minute.

Pet Friendly Hotels

The destruction and loss of life caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 inspired the federal Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act, which requires government to include animals in their disaster planning. As a result of this legislation, many states have emergency plans that provide for the rescue and recovery of animals in post disaster distress.

Unfortunately, most plans do not dedicate adequate planning or resources to address the sheltering and accommodations people need for their pets in emergencies, and despite the good intentions of the legislation, hotels are not required to accept pets in a mandatory evacuation.

To prepare, disaster management officials suggest making a list of pet-friendly hotels at the start of hurricane season and keeping it handy.

If your evacuation plans include a hotel stay, call first to make sure your hotel is pet friendly.

Contact hotels in advance and ask about pet policies and restrictions on number of pets, size and species. Some hotels will waive the no pet policy during a hurricane evacuation, so ask about emergency exceptions.

If you need to find safe shelter for your pet, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services recommends pet owners:

  • Call ahead for a hotel reservation as soon as you know you will evacuate – pet-friendly hotel rooms fill up fast
  • Ask friends and relatives if they would be able to shelter you and your pet
  • Create a list of boarding facilities and veterinary offices that shelter pets and start calling at the first signs of an approaching hurricane
  • Ask your local animal shelter if it provides shelter for pets in an emergency

Lost Pets Due to Hurricanes

One of the most important things you can do to protect your pet is to have it microchipped by a veterinarian.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, if a stray animal is found and taken to a shelter, it will be scanned for a microchip. If you have microchipped your pet, it will be linked to a database with your contact information.

Should your pet become lost, check social media sites and call local shelters. Social media sites have assisted thousands of lost pets find their way home.

Tips For Finding Lost Pets During Hurricanes

  • Microchip: If your pet is chipped and it becomes lost, call your microchip company to make sure you contact information is updated.
  • Social Media: Post a photo of your missing pet in a local Facebook group (created specifically for lost pets in your area), on Nextdoor.com and your local Craigslist.org lost and found.
  • Apps: New apps such as FindingRover can help locate a missing pet through facial recognition.
  • Shelters: Contact all area shelters and your local animal control to inquire about your lost pet. A list of shelters by state can be found at animalshelter.org.

If you pet becomes lost during a hurricane, many cities have pet staging sites for strays. Contact your county’s animal control or emergency management offices to inquire about a staging site near you.

The stress of a hurricane affects your pet emotionally and physically, so be sure to offer them lots of TLC before, during and after a storm.

To learn about Sonata Senior Living’s hurricane safety guidelines, contact us today or schedule a virtual tour.

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