Hurricane season is here and if you live in a coastal state, hurricanes and flooding are realities that require planning. In recent years, the United States has seen a number of natural disasters that caused hundreds of people to evacuate their homes for a safer destination until the storm passes. Unfortunately, in the rush to evacuate, many pets are left behind to fend for themselves.
It doesn’t have to be that way! By planning ahead and preparing a disaster plan that includes your pet, you can ensure your four-legged friend’s safety this hurricane season.
Know Your Pet-Friendly Evacuation Destinations
When creating your disaster plan, evaluate where you will stay. Most commonly an evacuee will either stay with family or friends in a location outside of the storm surge, or in a hotel. Both of these are great options, but it’s important to make sure your host knows that your whole family is coming along. Including your pets.
Call your loved ones out of town and discuss the possibility of your stay with them in case of an emergency. During this discussion, make sure to bring up your pet’s needs so there are no surprises when you arrive. You want to avoid any misunderstandings upon arrival, so be open and honest. Ask about any allergies your host may have or other pets in the household.
If you plan to stay at a hotel, we suggest reaching out to several hotels in your evacuation destination to learn about their pet policies. Make sure you know if they accept pets, and if so, what they require you to bring for your pet’s safety and the safety of other guests at the hotel (proof of vaccines and crates are common requirements for a stay). It’s not unheard of for hotels to be full during a disaster, so make sure you know of several locations that will accept your furriest family member.
Prepare a Pet Travel Kit Beforehand
When creating your disaster plan, you should consider your pet’s needs and make sure to have those items readily available in case you are forced to evacuate. A travel crate or pet carrier is a great example of an item you should have ready. For instance, evacuation routes are often met with heavy traffic, requiring you to be in the car for many hours. If you have a cat or a pet who isn’t trained for riding in a car safely, it could be dangerous and distract you from driving. PetRelocation highly suggests having pets in a travel crate when in the car.
Some other items that you should be prepared to bring with you in case of a natural disaster are:
- At least 1 week supply of pet food
- Kitty litter and litter box
- Extra leashes and harnesses
- If your pet is on any medications, speak to your vet about having an extra prescription in case of emergencies like evacuations
- Your pet’s bed so they have something that smells like home
- Potty pads and dog diapers (for puppies, elderly dogs or dogs with nervous bathroom-related problems)
- Your pet’s vaccine records, tags, microchip information, and veterinarian contact
Ensure a Safe Stay Away From Home
Pets are creatures of habit, so when you are in an unfamiliar location this could be a cause of stress for them. Make sure you are prepared to make their trip as stress-free as possible. If it’s possible, stick to their normal routine. For example, if you walk your dog first thing each morning, try to continue this ritual despite the new surroundings.
While you are away from home, it’s important that you keep a close eye on your pet. If your feline friend has the freedom to roam the neighborhood at home, you may want to consider keeping them inside during your trip. The new atmosphere may be a little overwhelming for them and they may not be able to find their way home so easily. The same goes for dogs. Even if your hosts have a fenced-in backyard, it may be beneficial to accompany your pet on their backyard breaks as many dogs are prone to nervous digging. Just in case, make sure your pet is always wearing a collar with tags that include your phone number or other reliable ways to reach you.
It’s also important to bring your veterinary records with you, in case your pet needs to seek medical attention while away from home. A great practice is to make sure your pet’s records are stored in a file on your computer, in the cloud, or any other way that you can store records safely and access digitally. Before a disaster takes place, call your vet to request a digital scan of all of your pet’s current vaccines or even their full medical history in case they have more serious health issues that may cause concern when you’re away from home.
If you have more questions about traveling with your pet safely, let us know!