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Hurricane Pet Safety

aekpani [Flickr]

Advance planning can help to ensure the safety of you and your fur buddies.  Usually the safest approach is to evacuate before it's too late.  FEMA has mandated pet-friendly emergency shelters, but in your area there may be only one that will allow pets.

Before Hurricane Dorian moved up the American coastline this week, animal rescuers relocated hundreds of pets out of shelters in places like coastal South Carolina to Delaware and New England for adoption, getting the animals out of harm’s way. Another benefit? Clearing the shelters made space for local pets affected by the storm.

Sadly, some pet owners evacuated and left their furry friends behind, in some cases tied to something, like a tree, or a fence, giving them no chance to survive hurricane-force winds and flooding.

I hope that no one listening would ever just abandon their furry companion; but, this is a good time to remind all pet owners to have a plan - to make sure both you and your pet can stay safe if you must evacuate.

You might start by assembling a Disaster Kit for your pet that includes things like bottled water, feeding dishes, pet food, medical records and current medications, maybe an extra leash, a pet carrier, a blanket or towel and especially a current photo of your pet. Keep everything except the pet carrier in a grab-and-go bag or container that is easy to carry. For cats, remember to include cat litter and litter box.

Make sure your pet wears a collar or harnesswith an ID tag listing the pet’s name and emergency phone numbers. And have your pet microchipped, because collars and harnesses can be lost.

As soon as you think you might need to evacuate, don’t wait too long to leave, or you could find yourself in a situation where you would be unable to take your pet with you. It’s better to make an extra trip than to risk your pet’s life in the face of a disaster.

The Department of Homeland Security has put together some very helpful information at the website,, where you can find tips on making a plan and assembling a survival kit for your furry buddy. There are also several helpful links, under “Associated Content”, at the bottom of the page.

When disaster strikes, your best friend depends on you to keep it safe and get it out of harm’s way, when you’re speaking of pets.


Mindy Norton has been “Speaking of Pets” on Alabama Public Radio since 1995.
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