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Disaster Preparedness for Pets

July 12, 2013

It’s summer, and that means hurricane season for us Floridians and anyone living along the Coastal U.S.  Hopefully, you have all made your disaster plans so that in the event a bad storm should come your way, you’ll be prepared.  I trust that plan includes your pets.  Never, ever leave your pets behind when you evacuate.

In case you need help deciding on a storm plan, here are a few suggestions to help:

1.Know where your pet will go during a hurricane or other disaster.  Before it is needed, find out the location of pet-friendly shelters.  For example, Red Cross shelters automatically accept service dogs, but they don’t all accept pets.

Learn which hotels allow animals.  Even if they don’t usually accept pets, many places make exceptions in an emergency.  When Hurricane Charley sat in the Gulf, trying to decide which way to go, the projections showed it coming close to or actually coming ashore near us.  It was our first hurricane experience since moving to Florida, and we weren’t sure what to do except that we knew we weren’t going anywhere without our dogs.  Our son, David, took the matter out of our hands, booked us a room at a Tampa-area Hampton Inn that agreed to take our dogs, and pushed us to evacuate.

This particular Hampton Inn didn’t normally accept animals, but they recognized the need and stepped up to help many area pet owners.  As we walked in, there were families all around us checking in with dogs, cats and small cages of critters.

As it turned out, Charley attacked 20 miles South of our area, so we could have safely stayed home.  After that horrible storm, we set a plan in place for future issues.

2.Create a pet disaster kit.  In the event of an emergency, a prepared container of supplies will speed up your evacuation process.  Be sure to include the following:
*  Copy of pet’s vaccination records
*  Photo of your pet
*  Food, bottles of water and bowls for same
*  Cat litter and litter box
*  Dog crate or cat carrier
*  Pet toys

Floridadisaster.org also suggests including a sheet of information about your pet in the event you must leave it with a veterinary clinic or boarding facility.  You know your pet best, so include in the kit anything that you feel would make the temporary move more comfortable for Fluffy or Fido.

Be sure your pets wear some form of identification at all times.  Microchipping is good.   A collar or halter with an attached identification tag helps.  Be sure to include your cell phone number on your pet’s tag.  Consider purchasing an identification tag from FindMyAnimal.com.  The tag you receive will have a toll-free number to call if your pet becomes lost.  You can report the loss, and the person finding the animal can call the number to report the location.  FindMyPet.com keeps a national database and you will enter your pet’s information when you join.  If you purchase your tag by clicking on the link on the left side bar, Seniors for Pets will receive a small commission on the sale.  That commission will go straight to our mission to help seniors with veterinary bills for their pets.

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