August marked the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The powerful storm had a devastating impact on the people, the culture and the pets of the Gulf Coast states. According to The Humane Society of the United States, more than 6,000 pets were rescued during Katrina, and responders and volunteers spent months tracking lost pets and reuniting them with their owners. Some never were. The destruction of Katrina was like no other hurricane the United States had seen before; however, hurricanes will always be a threat. Preparing for future hurricanes will determine how much impact another storm will have on our lives and the lives of our pets.
And because September is National Preparedness Month, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) wants to remind you of the importance of having a plan in place for both you and your pets in the event of a hurricane. If you have to evacuate your home, do not leave your pets behind. They will mostly likely not survive if left on their own and you might not be able to find them again if you do.
Some public shelters do not welcome pets and you need to plan for alternative safe havens for your pets, such as a friend’s house outside of the impacted area. Additionally, consider developing the buddy system with neighbors, friends and relatives to help evacuate your pet if you cannot do it yourself.
Additionally, contact your local emergency management agency for specific information about your area before disaster strikes. Your local emergency management agency also will have critical information about local resources, such as where you can evacuate with your pet. These few simple steps provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will help you prepare for your pet’s safety during a hurricane. And your local emergency management organization can help you with the points marked below with a * star.
1. PREPARE a pet emergency supply kit
- Three day supply of food and water *
- Copy of medical and vaccination records in a waterproof container
- Extra supply of medications your pet is currently taking
- Extra leashes, collars and ID tags
- A sturdy, safe and comfortable crate/carrier should you need to evacuate with your pet *
- Paper towels, plastic bags and disinfectant for waste clean-up
- A picture of you and your pet should you get separated
- Familiar items such as favorite toys, treats and bedding
2. PLAN what you will do in an emergency
- If you must evacuate, take your pets with you, if practical
- Secure your destination ahead of time *
- Plan with your neighbors, friends or relatives to ensure someone can care for your pets in the event you are unable to do so
- Get the names of veterinarians or veterinary hospitals in other cities you are likely to seek temporary shelter *
- Make a list of contact information and addresses of area animal control agencies including the Humane Society, or SPCA, and emergency veterinary hospitals *
3. STAY INFORMED know about types of emergencies
- Know the types of emergencies that are most likely to occur in your area *
- Know what emergency plans have been established by your state and local government *
While we hope a disaster never strikes, careful preparation for your family and pets, can help alleviate even the worst results of a disaster. To learn more about APHIS’ role in the national plan, visit www.aphis.usda.gov, or visit FEMA’s website at http://www.ready.gov/sites/default/files/documents/files/pets_brochure.pdf.