East Coast residents: Prepare your pets now for Hurricane Joaquin

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – The governor of Virginia has declared a state of emergency due to Hurricane Joaquin, and doctors from BluePearl Veterinary Partners are urging residents to remember their pets when making  plans for the storm.

“Taking the time to create a disaster plan can save your life and the lives of family members – including your pets,” said Dr. Jennifer Welser, chief medical officer for BluePearl Veterinary Partners.

Remember, many evacuation shelters don’t accept pets and, if they do, it is important to have a copy of your pet’s complete vaccination record when you show up, otherwise your pet may be turned away. A shelter should not be your first choice. It’s best to find friends or family members who live in non-evacuation zones who could take in you and your pets during the storm.

In addition to the destruction left in their paths, hurricanes are notorious for causing lengthy power outages and water shortages. Since your veterinarian may also have to evacuate, make sure you have a two-week supply of your pet’s medications, food and water.

During a disaster like a hurricane, BluePearl Veterinary Partners specialty and emergency hospitals remain open unless forced to evacuate. BluePearl hospitals are not evacuation shelters and only provide emergency and specialty treatment.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers the following recommendations for pets in case of a disaster:


  • Make sure your pets are current on their vaccinations.  Pet shelters may require proof of vaccines.
  • If your pet requires a carrier, be sure it is the appropriate size– carriers should be large enough for the animal to stand and turn around.
  • Find a safe place to take your pet in the event of an emergency. Specialized pet shelters, animal control shelters, veterinary clinics and friends and relatives out of harm’s way are all potential refuges for your pet during a disaster.
  • Contact hotels outside your immediate area to check policies on accepting pets and restrictions on number, size and species. Ask if “no pet” policies can be waived in an emergency.



  • Call ahead to confirm emergency shelter arrangements for you and your pets.
  • Bring all pets into the house so that you won’t have to search for them if you have to leave in a hurry.
  • Make sure all dogs and cats are wearing collars and securely fastened, up-to-date identification. Attach the phone number and address of your temporary shelter, or that of a friend or relative outside the disaster area.
  • Check to be sure your pet disaster supplies are ready to take at a moment’s notice.



  • Proper identification, including immunization records
  • A current photograph of you and your pet together
  • Ample food and water supply
  • A carrier or cage
  • A first aid kit
  • Medications
  • Collar and leash
  • Familiar items, such as favorite toys, treats or bedding
  • Sanitation supplies, such as a litter box, newspapers, paper towels and plastic bags


In addition to the FEMA recommendations, BluePearl suggests talking to your family veterinarian about having your pets micro-chipped, so in the event you and your pets are separated, your pets can be quickly identified and reunited with you.