Hurricane season is here and we can expect severe weather in the coming months. Often overlooked when families are prepping for stormy weather are their pets. During Hurricane Katrina, more than 100,000 pets were left behind when their owners evacuated New Orleans. President George W. Bush signed the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act in 2006 requiring state and local municipalities to include pets and service animals in their preparedness plans. However, during last year’s storm season, one of the most damaging hurricane season in history, countless pets were still lost or abandoned.
When extreme weather hits, pets can get loose, scared and lost. It’s often difficult to find them after. As you prepare for the severe weather conditions, don’t forget to plan for your pet’s safety.
Before the Storm Prep:
Put together your pet’s emergency kit, including:
- Food and water to last one week.
- A photo of you with your pet as proof of ownership if they go missing. If your pet is microchipped, make sure that their information and tags are up-to-date. If your pet is not microchipped, now is a good time to do it.
- A copy of your pet’s vaccination records, current rabies vaccination tag and any medications your pet may be on.
- A sturdy carrier or extra leash and collar.
- Extra waste bags and/or litter box.
- A favorite toy or two for comfort.
- Research which local shelters allow pets. Contact the shelters in advance about pre-registering and any special requirements. If you own any exotic pets such as reptiles or birds, make shelter arrangements in advance.
Getting through the Storm:
- Don’t let your pets drink or swim in floodwater as there can be bacteria and toxins.
- Be sure to bring your pets inside before the storm starts.
- Consider keeping your dogs leashed or your cats in cages or carriers to keep them from running off and hiding.
- Make sure your pets are wearing collars with securely fastened, up-to-date identification. If you will be separated, including the phone number and address of your temporary shelter.
- Be sure to stay as calm as possible as pets can sense fear. The calmer you are, the calmer your pet will be.
After the Storm:
- After the storm has passed, don’t let pets roam freely. Fences and power lines could be down, and other hazardous materials could be on the ground.
- If your pet was lost or scared during the storm, check them carefully for injuries. Make sure to treat any minor scratches or cuts and take them to a veterinarian for an evaluation.
- If there is damage to your house or yard, keep your dog on a leash until they reorient themselves as their surroundings may seem unfamiliar to them.
- To help your pet recover and get back to resuming a happy life together, return to your normal routine as quickly as possible.
Severe weather can lead to power outages that can last for days or even weeks which could mean no air conditioning in hot summer months. Installing a generator or backup power supply will help provide cooler temperatures for your pets. Prepare for the worst and have peace of mind during severe weather and install a Cummins QuietConnect home standby generator.
Cheryl Nelson is an Emmy-nominated and AP award-winning Certified Broadcast Meteorologist, TV Host, FEMA-Certified Instructor and Weather and Preparedness Advisor for Cummins. You can visit Cheryl’s website at www.CherylNelson.net and follow her on Twitter and Facebook @CherylNelsonTV.