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DISASTER PREPARATION

Prep Your Pets for the Stormy Weather of Hurricane Season

Fido and Fifi need their owners to get ready for the potential calamities of hurricane season. Pets need food, water to drink and shelter, says a University of Florida expert.

Vaccination records are especially important if the owner and pet must evacuate, said John Haven III, executive director of the UF College of Veterinary Medicine and executive director of the college’s Disaster Response Programs. The college is affiliated with the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and UF Health.

“The shelter manager will need to see proof of vaccinations, and it will make the shelter intake process go much smoother if you have those,” Haven said.

He also advises pet owners to bring recent photos of their animals to help find them, and to verify ownership if the owner and pet are separated.

As hurricane season nears, Haven suggests these other tips for pet owners:

  • Owners need to think about having plenty of clean water. Livestock may drink up to 20 gallons of water per day.
  • Consider pet medications. People should plan on seven-plus days of essential supplies in a “go kit.” The “go kit” should include the pet’s normal food and medications, special toys, etc. Changing a diet can be tough on a pet.
  • If you lose power, consider evacuating to a shelter. If you have a generator, but it fails, you’ll want to call a neighbor to see if they have power and water. Solve problems locally if possible. If you have livestock, and can’t get local water, you’ll want to call the county emergency support function desk, and ask for “ESF-17” to relay that you have no drinkable water. The county team may be able to solve the problem, or may ask for help from the state.
  • During Hurricane Jeanne in 2004, the disaster response team used some of the county trucks to help bring water to big farms that were willing to help house horses from the neighborhood.
  • Trying to find pet-friendly shelters in advance can be tricky. Contact your county emergency management office for suggestions. Often, pet-friendly shelters change from storm to storm, and minute to minute. Most of these offices have web pages that will be updated as a storm approaches.
  • Mark animals. Fences are going to come down, and animals will wander.Being able to identify lost or displaced animals is important when it comes to being able to get them back in a timely manner. . There are many options: writing on the animals with shoe polish, weaving information in their manes, and more.
  • Have a basic first aid kit for the family and pets.
  • Remember, after the storm if you stay home, there are many potential dangers, ranging from downed, but live power lines, poisonous snakes in places not typically found — they are looking for shelter too — and more.

Original press release