As a resident of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, hurricane preparedness is always on our minds. But preparing for a hurricane can be different and even challenging for pet owners.
It’s important to remember Fido and Fluffy in your preparations. Our four-legged family members can’t pack their own things, so it’s very important that you take certain precautions and put together a Pet “Evac-Pack” so that in the case of an emergency, your precious pets will be ready to go with all they need.
Hurricane prep for pet owners has three main parts:
Part 1: Proper Pet Identification.
Take advantage of HSSM’s low-cost or even FREE pet identification programs. Make sure that Fluffy and Fido are microchipped and are wearing ID tags with your information on them.
If your furry friends get away from you during an emergency, the best way to make sure you are reunited is to have them microchipped. Studies have shown that microchipped dogs are 2.5 times more likely to be reunited with their owners if separated and microchipped cats are an amazing 20 times more likely to be reunited. Microchipping services are offered through most Veterinarians and are available at HSSM for low-cost.
**Please note that if any of your contact information (phone number, address, e-mail address) has changed you MUST take steps to update this information or your pet’s microchip is rendered useless due to outdated information. Click here for call HSSM’s Lost & Found Department for guidance on updating your microchip information.**
Do not, however, overlook the importance of an ID tag. Any community member can bring your missing pet back to you if he/she is wearing a tag and again, HSSM offers tags at low-cost in the BowWow Meow Boutique and as part of our Tag ‘Em! South Mississippi package.
Step 2: Creating a Pet “Evac-Pack”.
Start packing a Pet Evac-Pack before hurricane season or, at the latest, as soon as a disturbance appears. Find a tote bag or backpack of your choice and include the following items in it:
- Harness/Collar and Leashes Harnesses/collars and leashes are important for safety and security reasons. Always have your pets wear a collar, microchip, rabies tag, and ID tags.
- Medications and medical records Place a copy of medical records in the Evac-Pack along with instructions for any medications your pet is currently taking. Place at least a three day supply of medicine in your Evac-Pack. Also include the name and address of your pet’s veterinarian in a plastic, airtight, water-resistant bag or container
- Current Photo and ID Include a current photograph of each of your pets, a photograph of your pet and you together (this is an important means of identifying yourself as the pet’s owner should you become separated), and a full description of your pet including any distinguishing marks. Bring your pet’s microchip information with you. It is a good idea to include any other important instructions or behavioral information on your pet too. Keep all of these items in an airtight, water-resistant bag such as a zip-lock or a similar container.
- Food & Water Have enough food and water for each pet to last a minimum of three days. Make sure to include portable food and water bowls. Keep dry pet food in an air tight and water tight bag or container.
- Pet Beds and Toys Pack your pet’s favorite toy, treats, and bed if possible. These items will keep your pet comfortable and help reduce stress.
- First Aid Kit You can buy a pre-made kit, available at most pet retail stores or make one on your own. Just ask your vet what should be included in a pet first aid kit.
- Pet Carrier/Kennel Please remember to always bring a pet carrier or crate for each pet. If you have cats do not forget a portable litter box. Especially if you will be staying in a pet friendly shelter as crates/kennels/litter boxes are required.
- Other Useful items Roll of paper towels, pet shampoo, disinfectant, and garbage bags for clean up.
Step 3: Making a Disaster Plan
To Evacuate or Not to Evacuate?
If you are evacuating with your pets, do some research on your destination. There are several useful websites that can help you find pet friendly hotels along any evacuation route (Try www.bringfido.com or www.petswelcome.com ).
If you are going to weather the storm, treat your pets like you would treat your children: bring them indoors, keep them in a secure location, and if you need, consider finding a pet-friendly evacuation shelter.
Click here to find details about Harrison County’s pet-friendly hurricane shelter and keep an eye on local media for storm-specific information as it is released.
Fido and Fluffy are very important to your family, so don’t delay in getting them microchipped and creating your Pet “Evac-Pack”, because the old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” rings true when trying to keep your family, both four-legged an two, together.