Preparing for Disaster

 By: Ann M Stewart
As storms start turning in the Atlantic every year, in Florida we make ready for the annual hurricane season and the potential disasters that come with it. Part of that preparation includes having food and water supplies, making sure our families know the emergency plan, knowing how to evacuate and so forth. Unfortunately many families do not properly prepare for their pets.

The NHC-NOAA has developed a pet hurricane preparedness checklist to help owners be ready in case of disaster. Here is some of what it recommends:

Preparation is the Best Defense

Before a hurricane hits, here are some things to make sure you've planned and/or done:

  • Vaccines - Make sure your pet is current on vaccines as many shelters will not accept an animal that isn't current on vaccines with appropriate documentation.

  • Have a current picture available

  • Be sure your pet's collar is up-to-date wiht the right identification on it

  • Make sure to have a leash for your pet

  • Have a properly sized pet carrier if you must evacuate. Appropriate size means they have enough room to stand up and turn around.

  • In your evacuation strategy, be sure to include the plans for your pet. If you're going to take your pet to a pet shelter during an evacuation, make sure your planned route takes you by the shelter..

What To Do During a Disaster

  • Be sure to bring your pet inside during any type of inclement weather.

  • Keep a stock of our pets necessary supplies like food, bowls, news papers and trash bags.

  • Call ahead to your shelter to be sure they still have room.

When Nature Subsides

  • Take time to help your pet become reoriented with their home environment. This is especially true is sever property damage occurred. After the clean-up is complete, give your animal time to adjust and become familiar with how things are now.

  • If your pet has gone missing after the emergency, contact your local animal control office with a picture of your pet.

  • Monitor your pet's behavior for aggressive or defensive behavior. Be patient with your pet and seek veterinary care if you see this behavior and are unable to control it on your own.

Be sure you're prepared for the disaster potentials in your area, whether it's hurricanes or blizzards, and make sure you think of your companion along the way. Here's to a quiet and safe hurricane season!
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