Hurricane Preparedness for Pets

Life in Florida certainly has its perks; beautiful beaches, incredible wildlife, and plenty of sunshine. Unfortunately, coastal living also means hurricane season, which lasts from June through the end of November. The Tampa Bay area will likely feel the effect of a hurricane or tropical storm this season, so keep your family and pets safe by knowing what to do in the event of an emergency. Here are some tips to help you prepare for a potential storm:

Stay Informed. Sign up for Pinellas County’s free Emergency Notification Service at pinellascounty.org/alertpinellas.

Consider investing in a battery-powered NOAA weather radio.

Weather can change quickly during hurricane season. Stay informed and have a plan in place.

Know your flood and evacuation zones. Find out if you are located in a flood or evacuation zone at Know Your Zone: Pinellas Co

Plan where you’d go if an evacuation is necessary or ordered. For pet friendly shelter information and pre-registration visit pinellascounty.org/emergency/petpreparedness.htm. You MUST pre-register, and mobile home residents are given priority. 

There are very few emergency shelters that accept pets and their owners, and they are never large or comfortable. You and your pets will handle the stress of an evacuation far better if you find pet-friendly hotels and motels, or can stay with friends or family.

Many popular hotel chains offer pet friendly locations, including La Quinta, Motel 6, Red Roof, Red Lion and Best Western. Some hotel chains that typically aren’t pet friendly may ease their restrictions in case of an emergency but you should call ahead to make sure.

Other resources for pet friendly hotels along your evacuation route:

Never leave your pets alone if you have to evacuate. Your pets may end up being left alone for hours or days depending on severe weather, storm damage, downed power lines, road closures or other poor conditions. Wind or rain damage to your home and yard could also put your pets at risk for injury or escape in your absence.

Be sure that you have a means of safely transporting each of your pets, as well as a supply of all essential items. 

Plan Ahead. Have at least 3-5 days worth of supplies on hand, including essential items like your pets’ food and medications, bottled water, and their medical and shot records, as well as familiar items like a favorite toy or blanket. We have compiled a printable packing list of items to include in your emergency kit. 

Make sure your pet is microchipped and the owner records are up-to-date. A microchip is the fastest and most reliable way to reunite you with your pet if you become separated. It’s a cheap and easy procedure that is priceless in a time of crisis. As an owner, remember that you need to keep your contact information up-to-date by calling the microchip company. Aldo ensure that your pet’s collar has the identification tag on it and that your contact information is accurate.

Having your pet microchipped is the best way to ensure that you will be reunited with your pet if separated during an emergency. Microchip application is quick, easy, and relatively inexpensive. 

Make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date. Current records are a requirement in order to be considered for a pet-friendly shelter. Be sure your pets’ vaccinations are current and get a copy of their records for your hurricane kit.

Start planning now. Don’t wait for another storm to hit to figure out your plan for hurricane season. Contact SPCA Tampa Bay at 727-586-3591 or spcatampabay.org for additional help and links to organizations to assist you in figuring out the best plan for your family.

 
About The Author: Rizal Lopez, DVM, is the Spay and Neuter Veterinarian for SPCA Tampa Bay Veterinary Center. Since joining the organization in 2011, has performed over 20,000 spay/neuter procedures for the community.