Time to State The Obvious: It’s Hurricane Season!
We are now well into hurricane season with a direct hit by Cristobal. Growing up in New Orleans, I have seen my fair share of tropical storms and hurricanes and learned so much while going through Katrina. One of the most important things I’ve learned is that these storms are unpredictable. Our house flooded during a tropical storm, while major hurricanes have skipped by with no damage. Then, we flooded during Katrina (our house was fine until the levees broke). What I know now is that you need to be prepared for anything.
We rescued a lot of pups after Katrina because back in those days, they didn’t make it easy to leave with your pet. Now, there are pet friendly evacuation centers, so make sure you know exactly where the pet friendly emergency shelters are: https://www.petmd.com/dog/pet-lover/pet-disaster-preparedness-tips-finding-pet-friendly-evacuation-shelters.
There are also many pet friendly hotels:
1. Make a Hurricane Safety Plan
I know that you hear this every year (just like the safety talk at the beginning of every flight), but I really am serious. Times are changing now and you might need to rethink your old plan. First, let’s mention the thing that shall not be mentioned: there is a pandemic. Simply put, be prepared. Decide on a course of action and make sure you can initiate it at a moment’s notice.
Have hurricane safety supplies set aside in a safe, easily accessible place. You may never need them, but if a hurricane comes, you won’t be scrambling to find what you need.
2. Stick to Your Emergency Plan
Whatever your decision is, stick to it. Otherwise, you and your pet might end up in real danger.
If you decide to leave town at the first sign of warning, then do so just as planned. A friend who is a fighter pilot says that “indecision kills”. Don’t be fickle! You made a plan when things were calm, so it was probably a good plan.
3. Have a Pet Emergency Kit Ready
I am going to list the basics, but this list is dependent on your pets. Do you have one dog or 5, a cat, a bunny, a bird? Take a minute to think about what your pet uses in a week:
- 1 week of food & water for each pet
- 2 weeks of medicine for each pet
- Secure collar with up to date ID Tag & Leash – add an extra leash just in case, if you can
- Kennel or Solid Carrier & pet first aid kit
- Food dishes and water bowls
- Comfort items: pet bed, toys, treats (a jar of peanut butter lasts for 2 years)
- Printed Copies of your pet’s medical records/proof of vaccinations (many are available online)
- Photos of your pet, including one of you together with them to prove ownership if they get separated from you (you have a million on your phone, but get a hard copy made, just in case there isn’t cell signal)
- Contact information for your Veterinarian
- Microchip numbers for each pet – make sure your contact information is up to date!
- Cat litter and litter box, puppy pads, plastic grocery bags or poop bags (these have multiple uses in an emergency!)
Changing your mind or changing the plan often leads to unnecessary accidents, as you’re no longer prepared.
4. Microchip your pets
Many pets were successfully reunited with their owners after Katrina thanks to microchipping. Always be sure to register the microchip with the manufacturer and keep your contact information up to date with the microchip company.
5. Fill Out a Pet Emergency Sticker for Your Front Door
These stickers can be bought at the pet store or online, and they let emergency personnel know how many pets are inside your home. Keep these updated as your pet family changes.
6. Make Sure Your Pet Is Current on Vaccinations
Whether you evacuate or shelter in place, you don’t know what you might run into during a storm as all creatures are looking for a safe place. We also know how nasty flood waters can be! Rabies, distemper and leptospirosis and bordetella are some of the most concerning viruses in these situations.
7. Heartworm Prevention
Mosquitos are always a problem in New Orleans during the summer but in the aftermath of a hurricane when there is usually quite a bit of flooding, it is ideal for breeding mosquitoes. That puts your pup at a real risk for contracting heartworms. Call your veterinarian to have these on hand at all times, don’t wait until the last minute.
Please remember that you will need masks, hand sanitizer and gloves. This is a new addition for this year, and probably a good idea moving forward.
9. Stay Calm
Don’t panic. You have probably done this before. Your pet can sense your emotions, so stay calm. It is better for you both. Make sure that doors and windows are secure. Your dog may act differently, become stressed or anxious, or even try to escape, so keep a close eye and a secure leash on them.
If you make a plan early, you can just relax and wait for the weather report.