Before the storm
- Review your evacuation plans and know a safe place where your pets can go if you need to evacuate. Evacuation destinations may include a friend or family member’s home, going to a pet-friendly hotel, or temporarily housing your pets at a boarding facility. Plan multiple routes to your safe destination.
- Microchip your pets and properly affix a tag on your pet’s collar with your name, address and cellphone number so they may be returned quickly in case you are separated from your pets.
- Update your microchip registrations and pet license information to ensure it's current and consider including the name and contact information of an out-of-area contact just in case you are unreachable in a disaster zone.
- Double-check your disaster preparedness kit for your pets (e.g., First Aid kit, leashes, and pets’ carrying cases, bowls, sanitation materials, chew toy, minimum 3 days, ideally 7-10 days of food, medication, water).
- Evacuate your family and pets as early as you can and remember to take your family and your pet’s disaster preparedness kit if you do leave.
- Bring outdoor animals inside with a carrier ready large enough to turn around and lie down comfortably.
- Have a carrier and leashes at the ready. If your family must evacuate, ALWAYS take your pets with you.
During the storm….if you cannot evacuate
- Choose a safe room for riding out the storm—an interior room without windows – and take your entire family there, including your pets.
- Stay with pets. If crated, they depend on you for food and water.
- Keep your emergency kit in that room with you (food, water, litter and medication).
- Know your pet’s hiding places. That’s where they may run; keep them with you.
- Secure exits and cat doors so pets can’t escape into the storm.
- Do not tranquilize your pets. They’ll need their survival instincts should the storm require that.
After the storm
- Make sure the storm has fully passed before going outside and assess damages before allowing animals out.
- Keep dogs on a leash and cats in a carrier. Displaced objects and fallen trees can disorient pets and sharp debris could harm them.
- Give pets time to become re-oriented. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and cause a pet to become confused or lost.
- Keep animals away from hazards such as downed power lines and water that may be contaminated.
- Uncertainty and change in the environment affect animals, presenting new stresses and dangers. Your pet’s behavior may change after a crisis, becoming more aggressive or self-protective. Be sensitive to these changes and keep more room between them, other animals, children or strangers.
- Animals need comforting, too. Comfort your pet with kind words and lots of pats or hugs. If possible, provide a safe and quiet environment, even if it is not their own home.
New Technology Helps Reunite Pets and Owners
Just this week, American Humane Association announced it is teaming up with The Weather Channel and mobiPET to unveil a new, high-tech, visual “AMBER Alert” for missing pets. mobiPET is the first mobile image and information service designed to increase the chances that families will find their lost dogs or cats. In addition to disasters, this new service will also help find pets who are lost in the normal course of life.
Pet owners can register via computer or mobile device, but must use a smartphone or text-enabled cellphone to submit a lost pet alert. Owners simply upload their pet’s image and contact information at www.mobipet.me to register each pet and receive the web app for their phone. If the dog or cat runs off pet owners can text the word “LOST” to email@example.com.
The basic registration is free and mobiPET will donate 10 percent of all premium service subscriptions to American Humane Association when pet parents include “AHA” on the referral line.
Basic subscribers’ lost pet alert will trigger an immediate email blast to their vet and all registered pet owners and pet finders in a two-mile radius. Premium service subscribers’ paid lifetime alert will reach animal shelters and control centers within a 30-mile radius and will protect their pet while traveling. They will also receive a flyer to print, post on social media or email.
“Hurricanes and tropical storms are among the deadliest of weather phenomena, especially for pets,” says Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane Association. “Fortunately, our Red Star Rescue team has worked in disaster relief for nearly 100 years and has amassed a lot of practical knowledge on how families can prepare and, if there is no way to avoid the storms, weather them as well as possible and keep loved ones safe afterwards.”
Image credit: NOAA