Disaster Preparedness

There is a reason why September is National Disaster Preparedness Month, and I think you all may know what I’m referring to. Hurricane Florence is barreling down on the east coast, and Virginia is currently positioned in the “cone of shame”… excuse me, I meant to say “cone of uncertainty.” While it isn’t time to batten down the hatches just yet, it is, unfortunately, time to start thinking of preparations. Though we are certainly not hurricane experts, we are animal ones, so here are some ideas to keep in mind with the upcoming storm.

When threatening weather strikes, one of the main priorities is to bring your pets indoors. During a storm outdoor animals will likely seek shelter, but they could end up trapped or unable to find their way home. You may need to start the process a few days in advance, especially if you have outdoor cats who don’t really want to come inside. Once inside, provide them with a safe, warm, place in an interior room, if possible, with a bed, food, water, and litter boxes for cats.

Maintaining identification for your pets is also extremely important. All of your animals should have a collar with tags showing up-to-date phone numbers. In addition, microchipping your pets is recommended since collars or tags can be lost or removed. Microchips are small and scannable, and are usually placed just under the skin between the shoulder blades. Each has a unique number that can be traced to you once you register your chip with the company. Many shelters and vets automatically scan for a microchip when lost pets are brought in, and will contact the company to get your information so you can be reunited. It is also a good idea to have a current picture of your pets to use if they are lost during a storm.

Keep essential items for your pet in an easily accessible location. Include enough fresh food and water for several days, bowls, leashes, and disposable waste bags. If your pet is on special medication make sure to have at least 14 days’ worth on hand. Also, have carriers prepared in case you need to evacuate your location. Keep a folder with paper copies of essential paperwork such as the phone number of your local vet and emergency centers, current immunization records, and lists of all your pet’s medications and dosages.

If you end up having to evacuate your home set up a location you can go to with your pets. Do NOT leave them at home, even if you think you’ll be home in a few days. Not all emergency shelters allow pets, so be sure to investigate which ones do ahead of time. Research which hotels in the surrounding areas allow pets and keep a list in case you need to call for reservations. Make sure you have cages or crates to keep your pets comfortable and safe.

Most of all, be safe! We hope everyone weathers the storm safely, or even better, that it just completely bypasses us.