How to Keep Your Pets Safe During a Hurricane
How to ensure the safety of family pets during a hurricane
When Hurricane Florence pummeled the Carolinas in September 2018, shelters were established in cities like Fayetteville, North Carolina, and Florence, South Carolina. Very few of them were open to families with pets.
After Hurricane Katrina devastated the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2005, the federal government implemented the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Act (PETS Act), which requires that all states take household pets and service animals into consideration in their disaster planning. One 2006 poll found 44 percent of people who chose not to evacuate during Katrina did so because they did not want to abandon their pets.1 Sadly, the Louisiana SPCA estimates that more than 100,000 pets were left behind and as many as 70,000 died throughout the Gulf Coast.2
To keep your pet safe in the event of a hurricane, your have three choices: stay at home with your pet, evacuate with your pet, or leave the pet with a friend or at a kennel.
Rule no. 1: if you are told to evacuate, leave immediately and take your animals. If it’s not safe for you, it’s not safe for them.
Here are our recommendations for ensuring a pet’s safety in the event your home is located in the path of a hurricane.
BEFORE THE HURRICANE
Just as you stock up on emergency plans and consider evacuation routs for your family, make sure your plans account for your pets’ needs.
• Prepare a disaster kit. It should include 3 to 7 days’ worth of food and supplies for your pets
• Establish evacuation routes, identifying places to stay that include animals. Inquire if a “no pet” policy would be waived in an emergency. Keep a list of animal-friendly places handy, and call ahead for a reservation as soon as you think you might have to leave your home.
• Get your pets microchipped and make sure they are wearing ID tags. Put your cell phone number on your pet’s tag. and the phone number of a friend or relative outside your immediate area. If your pet becomes lost, the person who finds it likely won’t be able to scan for a chip, but they can hopefully read the tag.
• Bring your pets indoors well before the storm strikes.
• Make sure you have a carrier for each pet. In some cases, your pet may feel safer and experience less stress inside his or her carrier.
• Identify a safe area of your home where you can all stay together. Put your emergency supplies in that room, including a supply of pet food and water inside watertight containers.
• If there is an open fireplace, vent or pet door in the house, seal it.
• Monitor the storm — if your home is in its projected path, don’t wait for a mandatory evacuation order. Evacuating early increases your odds of reaching your destination safely and with minimal stress.
DURING THE HURRICANE
If your family and pets plan to stay at home, take the following precautions.
• Move to the safe area of your home.
• Make sure leashes and carriers are in a secure location, as well as waterproofed food, and can be readily accessed should you need to evacuate your home once the storm approaches or passes.
AFTER THE HURRICANE
• Don’t allow your pets to roam loose. Your pet could become disoriented or frightened, especially if there is a lot of damage, and become lost.
• Be patient with your pets after a disaster. Getting them back into a normal routine will help them be less stressed.
1. Fritz Institute. Fritz Institute-Harris interactive Katrina survey reveals inadequate immediate relief provided to those most vulnerable. April 26, 2006. www.fritzinstitute.org. Accessed October 24, 2018.
2. Louisiana SPCA. Animal rescue facts. www.la-spca.org. Accessed October 24, 2018.