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August 26, 2011

Keeping Your Pets Safe, Whatever the Weather

Earlier this week, the East Coast had quite a surprise: a 5.8 magnitude earthquake, not unheard of but rare in this part of the country. Given that it’s hurricane season, however, it’s not so surprising that we’re now preparing for a storm. By all accounts, Irene appears to be a major hurricane, and it’s threatening the seaboard from North Carolina to Maine. It’s coming just in advance of the six-year anniversary of Katrina’s terrible blow to the Gulf Coast.

Plywood Prep
Workers at The HSUS's Cape Wildlife Center
prepare for Hurricane Irene.
photo: The HSUS

Our South Florida Wildlife Center escaped the storm, but our Cape Wildlife Center is making fast preparations to protect our injured wildlife there. And The Humane Society of the United States’ Animal Rescue Team is on standby to help wherever we’re called in by local agencies. And wherever you live, it’s a good time to check your emergency plans for your pets. Having a plan in advance is the most important thing you can do to ensure their safety.

The simplest message to remember is that if you’re asked to evacuate, always take your pets with you. You never know when you might be able to return home, and if conditions aren’t safe for you, they’re not safe for your pets. Another easy but crucial way to protect your pets is to make sure they’ve got up-to-date identification.

To make evacuation easier, find out in advance where you can go with your pets. In case of a major disaster, your area may offer an emergency shelter for pets, but it’s important to check ahead of time. You may need to look for a hotel that accepts pets, or a friend or family member who’d be willing to take your pets temporarily.

Another important step is to put together an emergency kit for your pets. The kit should include:

  • Food and water for at least five days, bowls, and a manual can opener if you are packing canned pet food
  • Medications and medical records, stored in a waterproof container, and a first aid kit
  • Litter box, litter, garbage bags to collect pet waste, and a litter scoop
  • Sturdy leashes and carriers to transport pets safely and to ensure that your pets can't escape
  • Current photos and descriptions of your pets
  • Items to comfort your pet, such as a blanket or toy
  • Information about your pets’ medical conditions, feeding schedules, and veterinarian

A friend, neighbor, or family member can also help if you’re away from home during an emergency. Make sure this person has a spare key and knows where you keep your pet emergency kit, where your pets usually are, and where to meet you.

If you're advised to evacuate, pack up your pets and supplies and go. But in case of less severe weather or other emergencies, you may need to stay put at home for a few days. The same supplies from your pet emergency kit will come in handy. Also, make sure to bring your pets indoors if bad weather is on the way, and keep an eye on the weather reports.

Across the country, we’ve seen so much devastation this year from floods, tornadoes, and all kinds of weather. Localized events like fires and power outages can have a big effect, too. Taking these steps will help both you and your pets stay safe.

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