Most importantly, make sure you have a good safety plan in place that covers the people and the pets in your family. Find nearby friends or relatives who would put you up, if necessary, during a storm (with your pets.) If you live in a flood-prone area or evacuation zone, find someone who lives on higher ground.
“Your pets are your responsibility just as much as the other members of your family,” said Dr. Sonja Olson, a senior clinician in emergency medicine for BluePearl. “And part of that responsibility is to be prepared.”
As always, BluePearl’s veterinary hospitals plan to stay open 24/7 in Tampa, Clearwater and Brandon. But the staff hopes you and your pets stay safe and don’t need a trip to the ER. Here are some tips to keep it that way:
- Get familiar with pet-friendly emergency shelters in your area, but remember they are absolutely the last resort. Staying with friends is better. You may also want to scout out pet-friendly hotels.
- Make sure you have pet carriers. And for cats, don’t forget the litter box (portable ones are available).
- All these preparations become even more important if your pets include pythons, parrots and other exotic or unusual species. They won’t be welcome at shelters and maybe not even at Grandma’s.
- In addition to your own box of emergency supplies, stock a pet hurricane box with leashes, food bowls, water and sealable bags for extra food. And don’t forget favorite blankets, bedding or some toys that will make Fido and Fluffy feel better. Think comfort.
- Also, put together a pet first aid kit, which can include bandaging material, antibiotic cream and tweezers.
- Don’t overlook the veterinary documents you should have ready to take with you. These include your veterinarian’s phone number, your pets’ vaccination histories, your pets’ microchip registrations and records detailing any chronic illnesses. Learn more here.
- Speaking of which, make sure your pets have been microchipped, so they can be easily identified and brought back to you if you get separated in the disaster. Also, make sure the microchip registration has been updated. Learn more here.
- Pack all the medicines your pets take, in the original bottles.
In addition to this good advice, here are a couple of things not to do:
- Don’t change your mind about evacuating at the last minute and find yourself driving through the storm. This will almost certainly be more dangerous than staying put.
- Don’t say at the last minute, “I’ll just board Fido at the vet’s office.” Your family veterinarian may not be open and if they are, they may be fully booked. While most BluePearl hospitals stay open around the clock even during storms, they’re not set up to be shelters. They’re open so the staff can provide treatment to injured and ill pets during this time of need.