With Hurricane Dorian steadily approaching the Southeastern United States, pet owners need to make preparations for themselves and their animals. As of Sunday, September 1, Dorian was a Category 5 hurricane with 180 mile-per-hour winds. The storm is extremely dangerous and its path is still unpredictable. Even if Dorian doesn’t make landfall, people and animals will be impacted.
Hurricanes may only last a few hours, but recovery can take days, weeks or even months. The following steps can help keep pets and farm animals safe during and after the storm.
Develop a Hurricane Pet Plan
Pet owners should always have a plan in place for everyone in their family, including pets. If you are forced to evacuate, never leave pets to brave the storm alone. “If you evacuate, take your pets with you. Never leave your pets behind or tether them to poles or trees, which prevents them from escaping high waters and getting to safe areas,” the ASPCA advised.
Make advance arrangements with relatives, friends, or pet-friendly shelters. If you are reserving a hotel room, call the property and ask if they allow pets, how many pets they permit, and if there are any weight, size or breed restrictions. While many hotels will waive their pet policies during a disaster, they are not required to accept animals.
If you are going to a public pet-friendly shelter, ask your local government emergency services agency if pre-registration is necessary. Pet owners are usually required to provide the pet’s crate, food, medication, and supplies, along with proof of up-to-date vaccinations.
Microchip Your Pets & Make Sure They’re Wearing a Collar & I.D. Tag
A microchip is a tiny transponder implanted under your pet’s skin that offers permanent identification and proof of ownership. When a microchip scanner is waved over the animal, the microchip will transmit a unique identification number back to the scanner that link’s to the pet owner’s contact information.
Microchips are injected between a dog or cat’s shoulder blade by a veterinarian. They cannot be seen or felt after implantation. The procedure takes a few seconds and costs about $40. After the pet is microchipped, pet parents are encouraged to provide all of their contact information to the microchip’s manufacturer, their veterinarian, and local animal shelter. Birds, lizards, horses and other animals can also be microchipped. Although GPS pet tracking collars are on the market, microchips only provide pet owner information and do not have GPS technology.
Microchips are a great form of pet identification but should never take the place of a breakaway collar and pet tag. Collars and tags are the easiest way for Good Samaritans to return a lost pet. Many pet supply stores have machines that can make an engraved pet tag in minutes. You can also write your contact information directly on your pet’s collar using indelible ink.
Create a “Go Kit” For Your Pets
Pet owners should create a “go kit” for each of their animals. Using a sturdy bag or backpack, each “go kit” should contain a 3-7 day supply of food and water, leashes, and medications. Don’t forget essential items like a pet first aid kid, treats, toys, litter, veterinary records, and plastic bags for waste disposal. Have plenty of selfies of you and your pets on hand should one of your furry friends go missing.
Check the Locks on Your Pet Carriers & Crates
Check the locks on pet carriers and crates. Tighten up bolts and replace rusty or missing hardware. In a pinch, sturdy plastic zip ties can be used to secure the top and bottom sections of the carrier or crate. When transporting small dogs and cats, always hold carriers from the bottom rather than the handle to prevent side bolts from popping loose.
Get Your Pet’s Vaccinations Updated
Many hotels, boarding facilities, and pet-friendly shelters will not house your animals unless you can show proof that your pet’s vaccinations are up to date. Contact your veterinarian to determine if your pet’s shots are current and ask for a copy of your pet’s records. Keep a hard copy in your pet’s “go kit” and take a photo back-up.
Have a Plan for Keeping Horses Safe
Horse owners should also ready themselves during a hurricane. Louisiana State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine suggests that horses have current vaccinations and at least two forms of identification. Brands, tattoos and microchips are great permanent forms of I.D.
As a back-up, luggage tags can be braided into the horse’s mane or tail as a quick way to I.D. an equine. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) advises using a livestock marking crayon, non-toxic, non-water-soluble spray paint, or non-water-soluble markers to write on the animal’s side.
Stock up on food, medication, and supplies. You’ll need to keep everything in a spot where they’ll stay dry.
Have an advance plan in the event you must evacuate and prepare your trailer. Suggestions for suitable spots include fairgrounds, equestrian centers, livestock corrals, and show grounds.
If taking your horse isn’t possible, keeping your horse in the barn or letting him out to pasture to ride out the storm is a personal decision that should be based on the safety of the barn and surroundings. “The decision to leave your horses/livestock in the field or in the barn should be based on the risks of injury resulting from the disaster and from the immediate environment during that disaster,” the AVMA said. When making your decision, consider your barn’s sturdiness, the risk of field flooding and field debris.