Hurricane Florence is expected to bring catastrophic damage to the East Coast. Warnings are in effect for a lot of the Southeastern states, and while humans are prepping for the disaster, pet owners everywhere are wondering how they can keep their most beloved family members safe during the storm. The category 3 storm is predicted to affect North and South Carolina today with winds and is expected to touch down sometime between Friday and Saturday. Neighboring states should also be on alert.
ABC News reports that the best way to know if conditions are safe for your pets is to determine your own safety. Sara Varsa, the vice president of the Animal Rescue Team at the Humane Society of the United States, says the main takeaway is “if it’s not safe for you, it’s not safe for your pets.” The Human Society Twitter is a great resource for those looking for information about pet evacuations. The account includes information on what shelters do and do not accept pets. It also includes tips and real-time updates on pet safety during Hurricane Florence.
People should follow the evacuation and shelter procedures set in place for their respective cities, but it’s important to not leave your pet behind in plans. Animals should be included in your family’s plan of action. Some hotels and shelters do not take pets, so it’s important to know in advance where you might be heading in case of an evacuation so you can clarify ahead of time if your pet is allowed in. If there are no shelters or hotels in your area that will accept your pet, it’s a good idea to contact a friend in a safer area who may be willing to house your furry friend. Saving the number of a local vet is also a good idea.
All pet owners should make sure their pet has some sort of identification. A collar with an ID tag and a microchip are the perfect combination. If your pet somehow gets lost or separated, it’s important for rescuers to know who the animal belongs to. Collars can sometimes become lost or broken in storms, so it’s important to have a microchip implanted in your pet in case that happens.
Pet owners should have an emergency preparedness kit for their pets prepared. The kit should include all the things you might need to care for your pet for five to seven days. The list of recommended items includes, but is not limited to, “medications, leashes, carriers, food, potable water and water bowls, toys and beds, veterinarian contact information, litter, small carriers for dogs and more.” Have some sort of idea how you’re going to clean your animal. Disinfectant wipes (that are safe for animals) are a good idea to have just in case you lost electricity.
The report makes it very clear that the safest place for your pet to be is with you. Tethering an animal outside is the worst possible solution. Small animals like cats and some breeds of dogs should be kept inside leading up to the storm since they may be harder to find outside in case of an emergency.
Keeping your animal safe after the storm is just as important. Debris, like nails or rocks, can cause damage to an animal. If you wouldn’t walk around barefoot, don’t let your animal. Pets may be distressed or disorientated before, during, or after a storm, so make sure their mental state is taken care of with lots of attention and comfort.
Larger pets also need a plan of action in case emergency strikes. Livestock (horses, pigs, cows, etc) may need to be relocated to a safer farm during the time of the storm. These plans should be made in advance. Food and water should be bought and stored in gallons. Remember, you need enough food and water to keep your pet safe for a minimum of five to seven days, experts say. The article ends with the recommendation that larger animals should not be kept locked up in a small space if no other option is available. Larger areas are considered safer because the animal can run and seek shelter itself if it needs to. Damage to buildings may trap your animal inside.
You may have to get a little creative in the ways you ID your larger animals. Tags may come off, so using a toxic-free paint to write your name and number on your larger animal may be a good idea.
Bottom line, keep your pets with you if you can. Make plans beforehand if you need to evacuate or move your pet somewhere safer. Keep enough food and water to last five to seven days and always be on alert.
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