Pet owners may want to “paws” to make safety precautions for their pets in the event of a hurricane.
“The best way to protect your family from the effects of a disaster is to have a disaster plan,” the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) says online. “If you are a pet owner or have larger animals (i.e. livestock) it is important that you also consider their needs when developing your disaster plan.”
FDEM strongly urges against people evacuating without pets. Read on for a look at how you can take care of your furry friends.
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Congress passed the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act in 2006, which requires plans for the evacuation of pets, in addition to people.
Under the act, FEMA’s director is required ”to ensure that state and local emergency preparedness operational plans address the needs of individuals with household pets and service animals prior to, during, and following a major disaster or emergency.”
To get ready for a disaster, people should find out where they can bring their pets, which can be done by contacting hotels or shelters to see what their policies are, FDEM explained.
Pet owners also may wish to reach out to people they know.
“Ask friends, relatives, or others outside the affected area whether they could shelter your animals,” FDEM says. “If you have more than one pet, they may be more comfortable if kept together, but be prepared to house them separately.”
Pets need their own emergency necessities, too: FDEM suggests owners gather several things, including food, water, bowls, leashes, carriers, cat litter, medicine and medical records.
“Keep items in an accessible place and store them in sturdy containers that can be carried easily (duffle bags, covered trash containers, etc.),” it advises.
On the road
If you’re evacuating with your pets, dogs should be leashed and carriers should be used for cats, FDEM advised.
“Don’t leave animals unattended anywhere they can run off,” it says. “The most trustworthy pets may panic, hide, try to escape, or even bite or scratch.”
The agency suggests that pet owners allow their companions “time to settle back into their routines” upon coming back.