June 1 is the beginning of hurricane season. If you need to evacuate, do you know what to do with your pets? Remember, if it is not safe for you to stay, it is not safe for your pet. Having a plan is the key to emergency preparedness.
The first item on your list should be an emergency kit. Find a watertight container and pack the following items:
- Food and water for at least 5 days. Canned food works great. Most canned pet foods don’t need a can opener. They take up less space and are more enticing than dry when your pet is under stress. You should have bottled water for yourself so make sure to add enough for your pet too. How much is enough? Typically, a healthy dog will need about ½ to 1 ounce per pound of body weight per day. That means a normal 65-pound dog will need between 33 and 65 ounces per day or ¼ to ½ gallon daily. Cats need about 3.5 to 4.5 ounces for every 5 pounds of body weight each day.
- Food and water dishes. You can take travel bowls or include a supply of disposable paper ones in the kit.
- You will need a collar (or harness) and leash for each pet. All emergency shelters in our county, Lake County, are pet-friendly but you must have a crate or carrier. Even if shelters in your area do not require a carrier, they are a good idea.
- Waste disposal supplies are also essential. Take an ample supply of poop bags, paper towels and a disinfectant to clean up after any accidents. For cats, take a litter box and litter. Disposable litter boxes are terrific to include in your kit. In a pinch, you can even use a disposable roasting pan.
- Proof of vaccinations and medical records. Include any other important documents such as registration papers and microchip information. A picture of you with your pet is also helpful. Put these in a zip lock bag for extra protection.
- Bring along a favorite toy and/or bedding. Having familiar items will help reduce stress.
- Take 5 to 7 days’ worth of any medications your pet is taking. You may also want to have a copy of your prescription in case you need to get a refill.
Find a Safe Place
Ahead of time, find a safe place to stay. Search for pet-friendly hotels and keep a list of phone numbers so you can make a reservation. If you are able to make a reservation, provide that information to your family and friends. You might also want to find boarding facilities in the area where you will be heading. That way you won’t be restricted to a pet-friendly hotel.
You can also ask your veterinarian if they will shelter animals during an emergency. You may also want to contact your local animal shelter. Some shelter will take your pet during an emergency.
Check with friends and family in a safe area to see if they can house you and your pet.
If you are not Home
Make arrangements in advance with a friend, neighbor or family member to get your pets in case you are away when a disaster occurs. Have that person pick up your pets and meet you at a specified location. Give them a key, show them where you keep your pet emergency kit and any place your pet might be likely to hide. It is best is your pet familiar with the person you choose. If you have a pet-sitter, check if they can help. Discuss it with them well in advance, don’t spring it on them at the last minute.
In 2006, Congress passed the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act. This legislation requires any state or locality seeking disaster relief funds from FEMA to provide for the needs of pets and service animals. Check with your local emergency management agency for a list of pet-friendly shelters near you.
If you are interested, you can find the full bill at this link - https://www.congress.gov/bill/109th-congress/house-bill/03858/
Since 2015, all shelters in Lake County, Florida are pet-friendly. Lake County Shelters:
- Astatula Elementary
- Leesburg Elementry
- Lost Lake Elementary
- Mascotte Elementary
- Round Lake Elementary
- Spring Creek Elementary
- Treadway Elementary
- Umatilla Elementary
- The Villages Elementary
Make your plans and prepare your evacuation kit now. Having everything in place to ensure the safety of your pets in an emergency will give you peace of mind.