Hurricane season is upon us once again, and it’s time to think about what to do should a storm threaten. That plan should include pets.
Pet owners should make sure they are prepared for all family members, including the furry ones, to shelter in place at home or to evacuate. No pet should be left behind for a hurricane.
Today, people do not have to choose between their pets and getting to safety, as pet owners have assistance and options. Orleans Parish residents can learn more at ready.nola.gov/plan/pet-owners.
If sheltering in place, know that stores or roads may be closed for a while after the storm, so it is imperative to have adequate food, water, medications and supplies on hand for both people and pets, for at least five days.
If you're thinking evacuation, here's what to consider:
Pick a destination: Whether it be Houston or Birmingham or Destin, pinpoint your evacuation spot now and then identify a few pet-friendly accommodation options in the area.
Identification: An ID tag with up-to-date contact information is the quickest way to identify the owner of a lost dog or cat should you become separated.
Microchip: If your pets are not microchipped, do it today. A vet can insert a little chip, the size of a grain of rice, under the animal’s skin, usually between the shoulder blades. This microchip has a unique number that can be read by a scanner.
The procedure takes seconds and offers secure, reliable, unique and permanent identification. Unlike a collar with tags, a pet’s microchip cannot fall off or be removed.
Make sure to register the microchip immediately.
Gather paperwork: Are the pets up-to-date on vaccinations, and are copies of their medical records readily available? All boarding facilities and veterinarian offices will require proof of immunization before accepting pets.
Once a storm enters the Gulf, it is too late to think about these items, so make an appointment with the vet now to get vaccinations up-to-date and copies of any needed records.
It’s also a good time to have your veterinarian scan an existing microchip to ensure that it can still be easily detected.
Place copies of the pet's microchip information, registration, adoption papers, vaccination documents, medical records and any other relevant records in a clear plastic bag or waterproof container.
Food and water: Bring a supply of food and necessary dishes. Keep food in an airtight, waterproof container and bring plenty of bottled drinking water.
If your pet is on a prescription diet, make sure to have an adequate supply at home for the duration of storm season, just in case you need to leave quickly.
Medications: Even if your pet may not currently be taking all of the medications you have on hand, bring them anyway. All of them.
I am talking from experience. If you end up being gone for an extended period, it is much easier to have these items with you rather than trying to find a vet who will fill a prescription or sell a medication to someone who isn’t their patient, without an exam, should you need that eye medication or ear drops. Keep an extra supply of pet medicines in a waterproof container.
Pet carrier: Carriers should be large enough for pets to stand up, completely turn around and lie down. Put your name, address, phone number and an alternate contact on the carrier.
Accessories and supplies: Include leashes, harnesses, litter, newspapers, towels, plastic trash bags and cleaners so you can walk the dogs and clean up after all pets.
For more information about planning for an evacuation with pets, visit www.louisianaspca.org/pet-care/disaster-preparedness. Jefferson Parish residents can go to www.jeffparish.net for evacuation details. In St. Tammany, see www.stpgov.org. In St. Bernard Parish, see sbpg.net. In St. Charles Parish, www.stcharlesparish.gov; and in St. John Parish, www.sjbparish.gov
JUNE 17: Petco Dog Days of Summer Adoption Event with Animal Rescue New Orleans from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Petco, 3520 Veterans Blvd., Metairie. Meet adorable dogs and puppies. Applications to foster or adopt will be available. For more info: email@example.com
Traci D. Howerton is the volunteer coordinator for Animal Rescue New Orleans (ARNO), a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. For more information on ARNO, visit www.animalrescueneworleans.org.