I often write about men who find themselves in danger due to natural elements or men who put themselves in such peril to save others.
However, that's fiction. Natural (and some man-made) disasters are real life and we need to be prepared.
Hurricanes don't generally sneak up on us and we have time to prepare our families, including pets. I'm a veterinary nurse and when I think of preparing for a disaster I want to know my pets are prepared as well.
The ASPCA has a brochure they encourage people to down load and share. That can be found HERE. A second source of good advice can be found HERE.
I'm the first one to admit I'd be one of those people telling the rescue helicopter personnel, "I'm not going without my pets!" I also would evacuate if advised to, however, sometimes there's no time to evacuate. Events such as earthquakes and tornadoes happen with very little warning.
I'd like to stress a few suggestions in the links above.
Microchip. Microchip. Microchip! This really is the best way to identify your pet and in some states can help prove ownership. Some of our pets have a very distinctive look but face it, one tabby cat looks like the next one. You can line up a dozen yellow labs and have a hard time telling them apart. Keep the online information associated with your pet's microchip up to date. The American Animal Hospital Association (AHAA) keeps a directory of all microchip numbers, no matter what company manufactured the chip. It can be found HERE.
There are also little key-ring things you can get that say my pet is home alone to alert others in the case you can't do that yourself.
Keep paper copies of your pet's vaccine records, medications needed and the doses. If power is out, it may not be possible to access online records or ones stored in your phone. Apps are great if your phone works, usless if it doesn't. This is going to be very important if you and your pets end up in different shelters.
Not all human shelters can accommodate pets for a number of good and valid reasons. If your pet has to go to a kennel or some other type of emergency shelter set up for pets, rest assured they'll be properly cared for. Years ago at Ohio's Veterinary conference many of my co-workers and myself signed up for a registry of people to help during a major disaster. One of the positions asked for was people to care for lost or sheltered pets. At least some of the works in emergency pet shelters will be familiar with dealing with hurt, scared animals.
Yeah, it'll hurt to be separated. I wouldn't like it either, but realize in some cases your pet maybe better off and will be cared for until you're reunited. If you can hand over your pet supplies like food and litter, it'll help those emergency shelters a great deal.
One last thing, especially important for people in hurricane zones. Flea and heartworm protection. Keep your pet up to date on their preventative and keep a few month's supply in your emergency kit. Mosquitoes carry heartworm and there's a lot of mosquitoes in areas hit by hurricanes. Many dogs rescued from Katrina who made it to Cleveland, Ohio where I work had heartworm. And, honestly, no one wants fleas!
Be smart, safe and prepared!
Oh, and don't forget to pack a good book or two in your kit!
Elizabeth, Rosie and Murphy
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