One of the most heartbreaking stories to come out of Hurricane Katrina was the number of abandoned pets left in the wake of the hurricane. The Louisiana chapter of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) estimates that more than104,000 pets were left behind by their owners in the aftermath of the hurricane. Many more animals have since been abandoned or surrendered to animal shelters as their owners discovered that they could no longer care for them.
Due largely to the plight of pets during hurricanes, the U.S. government enacted the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act of 2006 to ensure that state and local emergency preparedness planning addresses the needs of pet owners. The results of this act were visible in 2011 when Hurricane Irene threatened the eastern United States coast.
“It doesn’t matter where you live, anyone can be hit with a natural or man-made disaster,” said Tim Rickey, senior director of ASPCA Field Investigations and Response. Rickey’s team was deployed to New York City in 2011 in advance of Hurricane Irene. “When you’re in the moment, it can be very stressful for you and your pets. We learned from past hurricanes that people must be allowed to evacuate with their pets, and New York City took heed and made sure that all the human shelters were pet-friendly. Having a plan in place ahead of time can save you precious time and energy, so you can focus on quickly getting you and your pets to safety.”
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the likelihood that your animals will survive an emergency depends on emergency planning done in advance. These emergencies can range from a fire or flood to a major storm or terrorist attack. Although the emergency you and your pets may face varies, the strategies that you plan for each emergency are not unique to one another.
[Read Here: Hurricane Dorian Preparation List]
To prepare for an emergency, FEMA recommends that pet owners put together an emergency supply kit and develop a pet care buddy system that includes plans for your pet’s care whether you decide to evacuate your location or stay put.
“If officials order an evacuation, you should take your pets with you,” said a storm restoration expert from Restoration 1. “If it’s not safe for you, then it’s not safe for your pets.”
The ASPCA suggests that pet owners utilize the following strategies in emergency preparedness:
- Bring pets indoors at the first sign of storm or disaster.
- Put collars on all pets and make sure identification is affixed to the collars. The ASPCA also recommends micro-chipping pets in case you are separated from them. In the 2011 F5 tornado that hit Joplin, Missouri, more than 1,300 animals were recovered that had been separated from their owners. Micro-chipping helped identify a small fraction of these animals.
- Display a rescue alert sticker that will let firemen or other rescue workers know that there are pets on the premises.
- Have a safe haven for your pets that you can take them to if you have to evacuate and cannot take your pets with you.
- Designate a caregiver who can care for your pets if you are unable to.
- Keep a pet emergency kit on hand. Stock it with first aid supplies, medications, five to seven days worth of food and water, and medical records.
According to the ASPCA, owners of exotic or small pets such as birds, reptiles or hamsters should make additional plans to see to the special needs of their pets.
With Hurricane Dorian still threatening the United States, the following Restoration 1 companies in the most vulnerable areas are standing by to help you with all of your restoration needs:
• Restoration 1 of South Florida
• Restoration 1 of Boca Raton
• Restoration 1 of Parkland
• Restoration 1 of West Palm Beach
• Restoration 1 of Port St. Lucie
• Restoration 1 of Orlando
• Restoration 1 of Tampa
• Restoration 1 of Sarasota
• Restoration 1 of Low Country
• Restoration 1 of Horry County
• Restoration 1 of NC Coastal Plains
• Restoration 1 of Central Maryland