Although June 1 is the official start of the Atlantic Hurricane season in Florida and the Gulf of Mexico; August, September and October are the months when the periods of fierce and dangerous storms are common.
While weather reports and tracking information warn us, tropical depressions can quickly develop and soon grow into a ferocious hurricane with accompanying tornados.
Because Florida is at risk of dangerous foul weather and other emergencies such as wildfires and flooding, to help keep our pets safe, it is essential to make plans early. FloridaWild Veterinary Hospital has reserved the month of August as Disaster Preparedness for Pets.
We know that August is famous for forming these potentially hazardous hurricanes, and since the season is upon us, taking time now for preparing for the catastrophic weather can help reduce the anxiety of those “what shall we do?” worries. Planning not only makes life easier for pet owners when any sudden disaster strikes, but it also helps ensure your pets’ safety. Having a fully stocked, ready to go disaster kit located in a convenient spot can save the lives of companion animals.
Making your own Pet Disaster kit or where to buy one:
Building a pet disaster kit is easy. Purchase an easy-to-carry waterproof storage container such as a medium to large-size transparent plastic box sold at Walmart, Lowes, Target or most department stores. Fill it with several days’ worth of pet food and bottled water, feeding bowls, water dishes, plastic spoons, knives and forks, favorite toys, a collar complete with an identification tag, an extra leash, a small blanket, towel, or a small pet bed. For cats add a plastic dishpan (used as a litter box) or a few disposable litter boxes, a small bag of litter and a scooper.
Also include in your disaster kit a nail trimmer, flashlight, a digital thermometer, Vaseline, a flashlight, a small first aid kit and several jars of baby food (meat and broth only). Baby food can be tempting to nervous, frightened pets and it may spark their appetite sufficiently to entice them to eat their regular pet food.
Include in your kit (whether DIY or purchased) information about your pets’ feeding schedules, any chronic medical conditions or behavioral issues. If your pets need medication, arrange with your veterinarian for an emergency supply of the medication, so you don’t run out. Include your veterinarian’s contact information in case the weather conditions make it necessary to board or temporarily foster your pets.
In your kit, store an envelope with a list of phone numbers of local pet-friendly hotels. Make a reservation ahead of time once you get notice of an impending disaster, but ask the desk about their cancellation requirements. Prepare a list of local boarding facilities and veterinarians who can board your pets in an emergency. Add proof of pet ownership and their vaccination records. If you have pets that are chronically ill, be sure to have a Rabies vaccination waiver in your kit. Also include your name, your landline and cell phone numbers.
If a DIY project isn’t your cup-of-tea, ready-made disaster kits are available online or pet stores carry a wide selection of Pet Disaster Kits. Amazon.com has simple pet disaster kits that are reasonably priced ready for sale. Disaster kits designed to store anything of which you can think are also available – they are costlier. However, the peace of mind they provide can well be worth the price.
If an evacuation is called for (whether it’s mandatory or elective), be aware that most human shelters will not accept pets. So before an emergency arises, make a list of human shelters that allow pets, their locations and where pets are allowed. Never leave your pets behind since you may not be able to find them when you return home. Therefore, it’s wise to have your pets’ microchipped in case pets go missing, to affect a happy reunion.
Fully-prepared owners can handle emergencies and disasters more effectively when they have a list of pet-friendly hotels or human shelters, have a fully stocked pet disaster kit on hand that’s ready to go. Preparedness makes emergencies far more manageable and less stressful for all concerned.
In celebration of Disaster Preparation Month, FloridaWild is offering $20 Microchipping.
By Jo Singer, MSW, CSW, LCSW (Ret.)