Tropical Storm Nicole expected to approach Florida as a hurricane: Live updates
When disaster strikes, pets’ lives are among the most at risk. Evacuating animals during any type of emergency—whether it’s a hurricane, wildfire, or earthquake—adds a layer of stress to a turbulent situation. However, experts from animal advocacy organizations say that caring for our furry, clean, feathered and scaly pets is an imperative rescue effort that can be done smoothly with advance planning.
Everything should be done so that the animals are not left behind, advocates say. You may not be able to get home for longer than you expect, and leaving pets behind can have “devastating consequences,” said Kelly Donithan, director of animal disaster response for the Humane Society of the United States.
“If you’re leaving for whatever reason, don’t think it’s safe to leave them behind,” Ms Donithan said.
Experts stressed that successfully evacuating with your pets depends on actions you can take long before an emergency threatens.
“Each story will be unique,” said dr. Lori Teller, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association. “Planning ahead definitely makes the whole ordeal a lot easier.”
Get ready to go.
Make sure your pets wear collars with clear, current identification and your contact information. A GPS collar could also be useful, especially if you have a fearful pet who tends to try to escape in stressful situations, said Jason Cohen, a dog coach based in New York.
You will need a sturdy leash and a pet carrier or crate labeled with your contact information. Consider getting a spare attachment for your pet’s collar, such as a metal carabiner or a double-buckle attachment, for extra security if the collar accidentally comes off.
Your pets may not be used to traveling, so familiarizing them with different modes of transportation may help. Know the different evacuation routes and practice them in advance.
“If you know where you’re going, if you know your routes, if you have all the supplies you need, that’s the best case scenario,” Ms Donithan said.
Put together a disaster kit for your pet.
Emergencies can happen at any time, so this kit should be updated regularly and kept in a handy, easily accessible place in your home, advocates say.
The kit should include enough non-perishable food and water to last at least a week.
It should also contain:
food and water containers
a few weeks’ supply of medicine, if needed
a printed document or USB stick with medical records such as a rabies vaccination certificate, key details about your pet’s diet, any behavioral issues and contact information for your vet, all sealed in a waterproof container
a toy or two for those idle hours
hygiene items such as poo bags or litter boxes
a current picture of you and your pet, in case you need to prove ownership or return it later
Consult your veterinarian.
Microchips, small transponders embedded in the pet’s skin that are linked to the owner’s identification and contact information, can later be scanned if the pet is lost. Experts say that a veterinary microchip of your pet is a must. It doesn’t end there. You will need to register this information in an online database and confirm that the registration is associated with your name and phone number. After registration, microchip numbers can be searched here.
To help ease your pet’s anxiety, a variety of supplements are available, some by prescription. You might consider talking to your veterinarian about what might be appropriate for your pet, said Dr. Teller.
Potential medications include drugs such as trazodone and hemp-based CBD products.
These aids should be tested before an emergency, especially if you already know your pet is distressed in certain situations, such as travel, Ms Donithan added.
Keep your vaccines up to date and consider getting them pet insurance.
Find accommodation for your pet.
Ideally, you’ll be able to stay with your pet during a disaster, and there are many hotels that allow pets. Emergency shelters in your municipality may not allow pets, so ask your local safety officials about their general policies.
If you are unable to secure housing with your pet, create a backup housing plan by evaluating nearby shelters, kennels, or out-of-town family members or friends who could temporarily stay with your pet.
Clear the training.
Steps such as crate training, which consists of preparing your pet to spend some quiet time in its kennel, could be a “lifesaver in an emergency,” Mr. Cohen said.
“If the dog is comfortable in the crate, it will help keep him safe and not cause additional stress,” Mr Cohen added.
And it goes beyond dogs. Many animals, including ferrets, pigs and rabbits, can be crate trained, Ms Donithan said.
To help your pets get used to spending time in the crate, you can feed them regular meals in the crate, which will build comfort and positive bonds with their portable home. You can also toss treats in and out of the crate to help them develop their ease in getting in and out of the pet carrier, Mr. Cohen said.
It may also be helpful to brush up on the “come” command and good walking practices, and identify hiding places for your pet at home.
Know what to do when disaster strikes.
Do not wait for the mandatory evacuation order to go out. Stay informed by following various websites, including ready.govand deciding to receive emergency alerts through your smartphone settings. You should also keep an eye out for updates from your local council and emergency services. Then, evacuate as soon as possible. This will give you more flexibility and make you and your pets calmer.
You can do most of the work before you evacuate, Ms. Donithan said. In active emergencies, it’s about implementing the plan you’ve already made.
“When that happens, it’s going to come down to how much you’ve practiced or how well you’ve prepared,” Ms Donithan added.
You will want to contact your local emergency office to see if they have temporary housing available for you and your pet. If not, rely on your alternatives.
Certain pets will require extra care. For birds, depending on the weather, you will need a blanket to cover the carrier and retain heat or a spray bottle to moisten the feathers. If you have reptiles, you’ll need a sturdy bowl for your pet to soak in and something to keep them warm. Snakes can be transported in a pillow case. There are also special considerations for cattle and horses.
The experience could be traumatic for both you and your pet. Some signs of distress your pet may show, such as panting, mild nausea, and shaking, could be normal. But other indicators — excessive vocalization or dangerous attempts to escape captivity — may require medical attention, said Dr. Teller. Knowledge of the basics of first aid for pets an application like this one from the Red Cross can help.
And if you must leave your pets, take appropriate action. Leave plenty of food and fresh water and don’t restrain your pet. Increase awareness of your pet’s location by notifying local law enforcement, animal control officers and animal shelters.
Also, post a note outside your home where rescue crews can see it, stating that you have a pet and where it is, and include your contact information. You can order emergency sticker tape to your window or door from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
If flooding is expected, you should place your pet at the highest point in your home.
Go back to normal.
If your pet gets lost, contact local animal shelters and seek help from neighborhood social networks. You can also post a notice on the microchip database or print flyers and offer a reward for your pet.
When you return home, keep in mind that the transition won’t be seamless. The environment, including smells and looks, may no longer be familiar to your pet. Carefully monitor your pet and help him ease into the home with patience.
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