Don’t forget to make a plan for your pets when a storm approaches

Author: Nikki Sheaks Producer: Carolyn Dolcimascolo
Published: Updated:

For many of us, a pet is much more than an animal. Whether it’s a dog, cat, hamster, or snake, they are a family member. That makes it all the more important for you to develop a pet plan in the event of a hurricane.

Make a plan

  • Know what you will do with your pet during an evacuation
  • Investigate whether your shelter accepts pets and whether there are any size restrictions
  • Identify a hotel that accepts pets and know what they require for your pet to stay there
  • Develop a buddy system with neighbors, friends, or relatives
pet plan
  • Get your pet chipped
  • Keep your address and phone number up-to-date and include an emergency contact outside Southwest Florida

Pet Emergency Kit

  • Vaccination records
  • Three days worth of food and water
pet plan
  • A water bowl
  • Any medicine your pet takes
  • A backup collar with ID tag and a harness or leash
  • Traveling bag, crate, or sturdy carrier for each pet
  • A picture of your pet in the event you become separated
  • Cat litter, a litter box, trash bags, and other sanitation needs
  • Toys, treats, or bedding that may make your pet feel more comfortable
pet plan

And never leave your pet behind.

“If it’s too dangerous for you to stay at home, it’s too dangerous for the pets,” warned Brian Wierima, Community Relations Coordinator with the Gulf Coast Humane Society.

The Weather Authority Meteorologist Nikki Sheaks added, “After the storm, do not let your pet outside unsupervised. There could be dangerous debris in your yard.”

Larger Animals

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services serves as the lead agency for dealing with larger animals, like livestock, and offers this information:

  • Your disaster supply kit should include
    • Form of identification for each animal
    • Food and water
    • Medications
    • Handling equipment
    • Dry bedding
    • Windbreaks
photo of a group of horses
pet plan
Photo by Jean Alves on
  • Develop an evacuation plan to include different routes and suitable shelter locations
  • Ensure you have the resources to transport your animals – vehicles, trailers, and experienced drivers and handlers

“Well, in some cases, we do evacuate, and sometimes we just evacuate certain horses depending on their needs,” explained Dana Hollenzer with Special Equestrians, Inc. “But we like to not evacuate and keep them on the farm if we can.”

Experts recommend for most farm animals, it’s best to have a pasture on high ground for the herd to ride out the storm.

“It’s best for them to be pastured with their herd in their natural environment. They know what to do for themselves and to protect themselves,” added Hollenzer.

They should not be left in barns because animals like horses will panic and could hurt themselves — and storm damage to the structure could injure or kill the animals inside.

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