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Local Expert Offers Hurricane Preparation Tips...For Your Dog

1. Before the Hurricane/Storm

Planning ahead is the most important thing you can do for your pets if you must evacuate your home, but NEVER refuse to evacuate because of your pets. Below are tips to help you be prepared in the event of evacuation:

  • Research a safe place to take your pets because some public shelters, such as those operated by the American Red Cross, do not allow family pets. (Service dogs are an exception.)
  • Ask friends, relatives or veterinarians that live inland if they are willing to shelter you and your pets. Look for pet-friendly facilities. For a list of pet-friendly lodging and their restrictions, check out www.petswelcome.com or www.pets-allowed-hotels.com. Keep a list of all these pet-friendly facilities with your other emergency supplies. 
  • You can also check animal boarding facilities. As a last resort, consider humane societies and animal control shelters in a safe area, but call ahead to check on their restrictions.
  • Make sure your pets are current on all their vaccinations.
  • Have a recent photograph of you and your pets together to show proof of ownership in case you become separated.
  • Have your pets implanted with a microchip as a permanent form of identification.
  • Whether you stay home or evacuate, put together a pet emergency kit. Items to consider keeping in or near your kit include:
    1. Collar with tags and sturdy leash
    2. Any necessary medications (at least a two-week supply)
    3. Photocopies of health records
    4. First-aid supplies (ask your vet what to include, or visit the ASPCA website at www.aspca.org to buy one online)
    5. Secure, unbreakable, covered carrier (large enough that your pet can completely turn around)
    6. Flashlight
    7. Food and bottled water (at least a two-week supply for each pet)
    8. Food and water bowls
    9. Recent photograph of you and your pets together
    10.  Favorite toy (toys can help reduce the stress of unfamiliar surroundings)
    11. Disposable trash bags or newspaper for clean-up
    12. Zipper storage bags for important papers, treats, toys, etc.

2. During the Hurricane/Storm

Keep your pets calm during the storm:

  • If your pets show signs of anxiety, do NOT try to "comfort them." This will sound like praise to your pets and may increase their anxiety.
  • Instead, the best thing you can do for your dog when he is feeling unsettled is to act as you normally would. By over-reassuring your dog or giving him an unusual amount of attention, you inadvertently can communicate to him that because you are acting differently, there must be something to worry about.
  • Use that special "den" where your pets feel safe. A properly introduced crate or kennel (done ahead of time) can be a great den for them.
  • Turn on a TV or radio at normal volume to distract your pets from loud noises and help them to relax. Classical music is the most calming.
  • Keep windows and curtains closed to reduce noises and bright flashes. The more we can reduce the noise and flashes the better your pets will cope.

3. After the Hurricane/Storm

  • Walk your pets on a leash until they become re-oriented to the area and your home.
  • If you have lost your pet, contact the local animal control offices to find out where lost animals can be recovered. Bring along a recent picture of your pet, if possible.
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Michael J. Mooney

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