Hurricane Season and Your Pets

    In the unfortunate event of an evacuation in Beaufort, it is always important to stay calm and ensure the safety of yourself and family first. Once your family has a safety plan in place you will want to prepare a similar plan for your pets.

    We are so lucky to live in coastal South Carolina. The weather is amazing, the view is tranquil, and all our family and friends want to visit us here! Unfortunately, there is always a catch; yes, hurricane season.  Hurricane season has arrived and there are several precautions that we as pet owners can take to ensure the safety of our pets during this season.

    Living in beautiful Beaufort brings the concerns of tropical storms, hurricanes, and floods. It is always a good idea to contact the local Red Cross or local emergency management office and ask about evacuation policies for your specific area. You should also always be prepared for non-natural disasters such as fire, chemical spills, gas leaks, etc. No matter where you live you should understand the possibility for disaster in your particular area and plan accordingly.

    In the event that you are evacuated from your home for any reason, you should take your pets with you. Remember, if it is not safe for you to be at home it is not safe for them either. The conditions of the area may become unsurvivable: non-drinkable water, infection, drowning, and starvation. Always remember that dogs kept on a chain will be in great danger of drowning in the event of flooding as they have no means of escape.

    It is always a good idea to have a prepared list of places within 100 miles of your home that you can take your pet to in case of an emergency; this list could be friends, family, boarding facilities, veterinarians, hotels, etc. If possible avoid utilizing animal shelters in your emergency preparedness plan; shelters can become overwhelmed with lost and found pets during these times. Always remember that even the best-behaved pet can become unpredictable under stressful circumstances and it is a good idea to have collars, leashes, and pet carriers handy.

    Be Prepared

    It is always a good idea to keep an emergency kit for your pet in your trunk. This will avoid any last-minute hustling under pressure. Always make sure that your kit meets your pet’s current needs.  A few items that are great to keep in your pet emergency kit are:

    – Food (exchange food items every 6 months for fresh)
    – Bottled water
    – Leash
    – Collar
    – Vaccine records/ identification
    – Emergency contacts
    – Towels

    Microchip your pet

    A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice and is implanted under the skin by a veterinarian into all kinds of pets. The microchip carries a series of numbers that are specific to your pet. This number is plugged into a database that includes the owner and local veterinarian’s contact information.

    During Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath, thousands of pets were stranded, abandoned, and separated from their owners. In the case of an unexpected separation from your pet a microchip could prove a very effective means of reuniting with your pet. Microchips are permanent identification systems and cannot be easily removed like a collar or pet tags.

    If you have any questions concerning disaster preparedness and your pets, please contact your local veterinarian.

    Story by Regan Zeller