By: Kim Parrish
Preparing for a hurricane is always a daunting task. The first step is deciding whether you plan to leave or sit it out. Those of us who have grown up in coastal NC are a little more cavalier about leaving our homes, but often- times, even the most hurricane savvy person must make the decision to seek safe shelter.
When the decision is made to leave, the next question is what to do with your pets? We have all seen too many clips of animals left behind, clinging to the roofs of houses, or hovering on the kitchen counters, terrified and starving. In the wake of Katrina, over 600,000 pets were abandoned. Many unable to reunite with their owners due to lack of identification. Many pet owners who left their pets behind, expecting to retrieve them, were unable to return to their homes for months. Katrina was a lesson for all of us to expect the worst, have a plan and protect your pets.
The first thing to understand is that they will NOT be alright if left behind. We could list the horror stories of animals left behind during hurricanes and needlessly died because of this attitude. Left in a house, that could easily be demolished or filled with water provides no escape for your pets. This is not a safe alternative for them, and certainly not a humane one. Tethered in the backyard or porch rail is terrifying as well as making them totally vulnerable to the elements. Abandoning them to fend for themselves is inhumane and irresponsible. Yet, many resort to these options because they are unprepared.
While we realize it is important for families to seek safety, there are steps you can take to ensure that both your family and your pets are safe.
As we approach hurricane season, it would be wise to get ahead of the potential problem and commit to saving your animals with these simple steps:
- Have your pet microchipped, or provide a collar and tag with contact information
- Make sure all pets are up to date on their vaccinations, especially rabies
- Have their vet and medical records on hand
- Make sure you have plenty food and water for travel
- Provide blankets or beds, bowls, medications and toys for your pet
- Check local hotels to see if they are accepting pets, many do during a storm
- Never leave them alone in the house, garage or pens
- Keep cats in travel carriers, provide litter boxes and litter, scoops and bags
- Dogs should have leashes and collars
We realize that it is difficult at best to find lodging and care for yourself much less your pets in an emergency situation but leaving pets behind should never be an option. Preparing and following the steps provided will ensure that your pets will be cared for as well.
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