The single most important thing you can do to protect your pets during a hurricane is to take them with you. If it’s not safe for you to stay, then it’s not safe for your animals. Pets that are left behind can be injured, lost, or killed. If they are left inside your home, they may escape through storm-damaged areas, such as broken windows. Also, animals turned loose to fend for themselves are likely to become victims of accidents, starvation, contaminated food or water. Leaving dogs tied or chained outside in a disaster is a death sentence.
There are steps you can take that will make you better prepared to care for your pets in a disaster. Here are some emergency tips and planning information for you to consider:
Don’t forget ID
Your pets should be wearing up-to-date identification at all times in case they get lost. It’s a good idea to include a cell phone number because landline service is more likely to be disrupted after a disaster. If your dog has a microchip, make sure all information is up to date.
Find a safe place ahead of time
Government shelters do not accept pets, so you must plan ahead to ensure that your family and pets will have a safe place to stay.
Currently the Department of Agriculture and the Cayman Islands Humane Society shelter do not have space to shelter pets and these facilities are already stretched to their limits. Don’t wait until you are facing the imminent threat of disaster to make your arrangements. Check with friends and relatives and ask if they would be able to shelter you and your pets or just your pets, if necessary. Make a list of boarding facilities and veterinary offices that might be able to shelter animals in emergencies.
If you don’t evacuate
If your family and pets must wait out a storm or other disaster at home, identify a safe area of your home where you can all stay together. Keep dogs on leashes and cats in carriers. Have any medications and a supply of pet food and water inside watertight containers, along with your other emergency supplies.
As the disaster approaches
Don’t wait until the last minute to get ready. Warnings of hurricanes or other disasters may be issued hours, or even days, in advance. Call to confirm emergency shelter arrangements for you and your pets. Bring pets into the house and confine them so you can leave with them quickly if necessary. Make sure your disaster supplies are ready to go, including your pet disaster kit.
Don’t allow your dog or cat to wander; keep them on a leash. Downed power lines, contaminated water and debris are a hazard to your four-legged friend. Familiar landmarks may also be damaged, which may be disorientating to dogs.
PIC Puppy first aid
Pet care emergency kit
Immunisation record and medications
Ample supply of food and water
Water and food bowls
A carrier or cage
Trash bags for handling waste
Collar and leash
Cat litter and scoop
Your pets favourite toy and blanket to help keep them calm