Owning pets during Hurricane Season - Dogs, Cats, Horses
Hurricane Season Shelters, Evacuation and Riding out the Storm Dogs, Cats and Small Animals
Hurricane Season begins on June 1st. Those of us living in the coastal communities of Georgia and South Carolina watch the weather closely, hoping we don’t have to board up our windows and evacuate our families and pets to higher, safer ground.Train This Dog joins with the American Veterinary Medical Association and others to encourage you to plan ahead for evacuation. The suggestions for emergency preparedness for people are similar to pet emergency preparedness. Watch the weather, and think ahead. Have your dogs and cats micro chipped, and get them a tag with your cell phone number engraved on it now. If it is not safe for you to stay in your home, it is not safe for your animals. Many of my Savannah neighbors leave their dogs outside most of the time. Pet animals left outside, tied or penned are in extreme danger during a disaster. It is important to plan ahead. Human shelters, available for last minute human evacuations, are frequently unequipped to take in companion animals. Your local Animal Control in Savannah and Hilton Head will not be open to accept your pets, they evacuate early. The Red Cross cannot guarantee you and your pet a place. Plan Ahead! Identify pet friendly hotels away from the Carolina and Georgia coasts. Make your reservations several days before the storm is scheduled to hit. Leave for safety sooner, not later, to guarantee your reservation will be held. Prepare a ‘bug out bag’ for your pet. It should include seven days of food (I keep kibble in Tupperware containers, they seal for freshness and double as bowls) and medicine. Keep the medicines in their original containers, sealed in plastic bags, one bag per pet. Each bag should also contain a file card with the following information: Veterinarian Name and contact information Your Name and contact information Your emergency destination address and phone number Current license number Current rabies tag number
Micro Chip information Medical or behavioral issue information A photo of your animal securely attached to the card A copy if this file card should also remain in your wallet. Bring a harness and a leash. Be prepared with a muzzle if you think there is the slightest chance your dog could become agitated and bite a human or animal. Crates: It is possible you will be able to stay in a friend’s home or hotel only if your animal is crated. Your animal must be able to stand up and turn around. Crates are essential for safe cat and small animal evacuation. Have a carrier for your feline friends, and small pets. Label each crate with your name, address and telephone number. Use Waterproof labels. Don’t forget cat litter and a scooper.
Finally, learn the storm evacuation routes through Hilton Head, Bluffton, and the Savannah areas. Those of us with horses must be especially proactive. Get a ‘break away’ halter for each of your horses. Put a pet tag with your name and phone number on the halter, and save that halter for an emergency situation. Consider having your horse micro chipped or tattooed. Have a picture taken of you with your horse, be sure to get any identifying marks (blaze, scar, spot, whorl, etc) into the photo. Keep your horse’s coggins test current. Think today about where you could bring your horse. Arrange for safe shelter now. When a storm approaches you don’t want to find out the place you were hoping to put your horse is already full. Fill your truck with gas and plan to leave a full 24 hours before human evacuation is declared. Bring hay, grain, and fill your water jugs. If you are going to ride out the storm with your equine companions in their barn be sure to fill every available bucket and trough with clean water before the storm hits. My barn in New Jersey lost electricity for a week after Sandy. No electricity means no water pump. Trim the trees surrounding your barn and pastures regularly. You won’t want to do it with a storm approaching. Just before the storm arrives leave your horse with enough hay and water to keep them for 24 to 36 hours, in case you are called to save a friend or family member with their own emergency and find it difficult to return to your barn. In the event of truly catastrophic flooding, let your horses free to find higher ground. This is a last resort, leaving your horses vulnerable to live down wires, traffic accidents, etc. You will be held responsible for any damage to persons or property caused by your stray horses.