Don’t Let Sandy Win: How to Keep Pets Safe in a Natural Disaster

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We hope everyone on the East Coast is safe and sound, hunkered down for the storm or well on your way to a safe place.

As many of us prepare for ourselves and our families in case of evacuation or the possibility of days without power or water, you may be wondering what you can do to prepare for your pet’s safety.

Have a go-bag ready with food, water, vaccination and veterinary records, leashes and collars, and any medications. Have a kennel or crate ready to go as well. You don’t want to be searching your house for the things you need if you have to leave quickly. Even if you’re staying put, having important items in one place will be one less stress for you.

If you have not been ordered to evacuate, your first step is to bring your pet inside with you. Cats especially may retreat to a hiding place in your house, so keep your cat in a certain room so you always know where they are. Make sure you have enough food and water on-hand to feed your pet for several days. Wet food can be more useful because it already contains some water, and your pet won’t need to drink as much. Keep lots of newspaper and plastic bags handy–your pet will still have to do their business, whether they can get outside or not. When and if the storm gets bad in your area, you may want to separate your pets, especially dogs and cats. Animals that usually get along can get into fights in stressful situations. Have kennels and carriers at the ready, preferably with blankets, toys, and other familiar items to help ease your pet’s stress.

If you need to evacuate, take your pet with you. You’ll need leashes, or harnesses for cats, carriers, and muzzles. Even if your dog is usually even-tempered, a muzzle will protect you and others from your dog if the stress of the situation makes them agitated.

Some shelters won’t allow animals, so look in advance for pet shelters that are close to the shelter you’re headed for. You’ll likely have to leave your pet at the pet shelter until the disaster passes, so be sure to have the following information on hand: your pet’s name, species and breed, sex, fur color or any marking, age, microchip identification number, vaccination records, and medications.

If you can’t get to a pet shelter or a regular boarding kennel out of reach of the danger, check with friends, family members, and neighbors who don’t need to evacuate to see who might be able to care for your pet for a few days. Even if your friends can’t host your whole family until danger passes, they may be able to provide a safe place for your pet.

If you’re evacuating to a hotel instead, check first to see which hotels allow pets.

Visit ready.gov for more information on preparing for your pets for a disaster.

Stay safe!