Pet Hurricane Preparedness

May 1, 2011

Those who have experienced hurricanes first hand do not need reminding, but those of you who are new to the area may need some prodding to get you to believe how bad things can be for people and their pets before, during and after a hurricane.  You must prepare yourselves and your animals for long waits in traffic, many days without water or power, and damage to your home.

The best thing you can do if a hurricane is headed our way is to evacuate with your pets.  It may not be possible to return to your home for several days or weeks and pets cannot get along without you.  Visit friends or relatives who will let your pets come with you.  If this isn’t possible, create a list of boarding kennels within a 100-mile radius of your home.  If you don’t have friends or relatives to stay with, call a pet friendly hotel and make a reservation.  These hotels are listed on several web sites: www.petsonthego.com, http://www.petfriendlytravel.com, petswelcome.com and www.travelpets.com.

For those that stay behind, drowning is the number one cause of death for pets and people.  If your flood zone allows you  to stay during a storm, make sure you bring all animals inside well in advance.  Prepare a safe place in your home for your pet away from windows.  An interior bathroom is a great place for your pet during the storm. Separate dogs and cats. Even if your dogs and cats normally get along, the anxiety of an emergency situation can cause pets to act irrationally. If your pet needs a sedative or anti-anxiety medication, be sure to give it an hour before the weather gets bad.   Sedatives that are administered during a panic attack will have little to no effect, but having drugs onboard before the anxiety gets too bad can help reduce your pet’s fear.

After the storm has passed, use caution when letting your pet outdoors.  Downed power lines, tree debris and displaced wild animals are just a few of the perils facing your pet.  Fences and familiar landmarks may be gone and your pet can easily become confused and lost.  Wild animals may also be confused, so be on the lookout for them and use a leash to keep your pets safe.

Whether you stay to weather the storm or leave to avoid the wind and rains, prepare a disaster kit to have on hand.  You’ll need it to travel or if you end up in your home without power.

Sky Kennel/Crate: This should be large enough for your pet to stand up and turn around.

Leash, Collar or Harness

ID tags and Microchip information: Only a microchip can provide permanent identification for your pet.

Food and water bowls

Health Records including a rabies certificate

Pictures of your pet

Newspaper or cat litter

Bath towels

Garbage bags

Water:  1 gallon/10 pounds

Dry food: 1-2 pounds/10 pounds of body weight

Medications

First Aid Kit: gauze pads and rolls, antibiotic ointment, cortisone cream, tweezers, scissors, instant cold pack

Important emergency numbers:

Charleston Veterinary Referral Center West Ashley: 614-8387

Emergency Veterinary Clinic North Charleston: 744-3372

Emergency Veterinary Clinic Mt. Pleasant: 216-7554

Charleston County Emergency Preparedness Department: 202-7400

Animal Control Agencies:

City Charleston: 720-3915

Charleston County: 202-1700

Kiawah Town Hall:  768-9166

Seabrook Town Offices:  768-9121

As this scary season approaches, be sure your pet is wearing a durable ID tag and a strong collar, is up to date on vaccinations, has been microchipped and has enough medication for at least a month.  Don’t wait until the last minute!  People do this to us every year and 24 hours before a big storm we are bombarded with people rushing in for refills of medications and sedatives.  Don’t be part of this last-minute crowd by getting prepared ahead of time.

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