You can put together an emergency kit for your pet in a hurry. Most of what you need will fit in a plastic zip bag. Food and necessary medications are at the top of the list. And - some folks might pack their best friend's rain gear!
This week, as forecasters warned residents on the eastern coast of the United States to prepare for the onslaught of Hurricane Florence, many people heeded the warnings, and the evacuation orders, and headed inland. But what happens to animals in area shelters?
The American Humane Association coordinated an evacuation of 72 cats, moving them more than 800 miles to a safe, dry place.
The Humane Society of the United States dispatched its Animal Rescue Team to assist with emptying shelters in advance of the storm and transporting the animals to safety at shelters in Maryland, parts of Virginia, Tennessee, and other states.
Still many of the people who evacuated left their pets behind. What will happen to them? Local community animal shelters filled up quickly, some reaching capacity. For them, the difficult decision might have to be made to begin euthanizing because of serious overcrowding.
What should a pet owner do in the event of a storm? Even the Federal Emergency Management Agency encouraged folks to make disaster preparations that include their animals. The ASPCA stressed the importance of owners considering their pets in evacuation plans, and listed the steps to take to keep animals safe.
A plan can be simple, like packing food and water for both you and your pet. Make sure you have a collar and leash or a carrier. One very important item to include would be vaccination records for each animal, which will keep you from being turned away even from an emergency shelter that accepts pets.
The most important message for pet owners is – never leave your pet home alone, or tied to a tree. Take your animals with you.
So, of all the advice you might hear, what’s the most important thing a pet owner can do? Never wait too long to evacuate, until it’s too late.
Your best friend is counting on you to keep it safe. After all, that’s what friends are for, to stick together and look out for each other, no matter what blows your way, when you’re speaking of pets.