Preparing Your Pet for a Hurricane

While other residents are buying batteries and calculating escape routes, pet owners are most concerned with their precious charges. One of the most common concerns at this time of year is what will happen to my pet if a hurricane strikes.
If your home is in a vulnerable area, it may become necessary to leave during the threat of a major hurricane.  In this situation, the welfare of a pet becomes a real problem.  While it may be possible and ideal to take your pet with you to the safe home of a family member or friend, some residents may not have this option.
If it becomes necessary to evacuate your home you may need to spend some time in a Red Cross Shelter.  Unfortunately, due to health reasons Red Cross Shelters will not accept pets.  Some people have chosen to stay in an unsafe home with their pets rather than go to shelters without them.
There is no need to risk your life to save your pet.  There is a network of specially designated Red Cross Pet Hurricane Shelters.
We were instrumental in working with the Red Cross even before Hurricane Andrew to set up this network of pet shelters.  Harmony Animal Hospital is designated as one of the safe havens, as are many other veterinary hospitals in Palm Beach County.  To receive a complete list either come in or call the Red Cross at 561-833-7711.
It is always important to plan ahead and even make advance reservations if necessary.  You may have to bring your pet into the Pet Hurricane Shelter eight or more hours in advance of the hurricane.  The shelter personnel will secure all of their charges and then make their own plans to be sure their homes and families are safe.  Most shelters will not be able to accommodate you or your pet at the last minute so make your plans early.
Be sure your pet is up to date on all vaccinations and have proof available. Pet Hurricane Shelters will not accept unvaccinated animals.  Be sure your pet is wearing a collar with identification.  Bring any medications that your pet needs to take on a routine basis. It is also a good idea to bring your pet’s food and enough bottled water to last your pet for at least three days.  If the power goes out water may not be available.
Since the Pet Hurricane Shelters will fill up their facility over their usual capacity in order to accommodate as many pets as possible, it is a good idea to have a roomy crate available so the shelter can house your pet.  They may have more pets needing care than there are kennels or runs available.
The choice of using a Pet Hurricane Shelter should always be the last choice.  There are many more pets than there are spaces in shelters.  Use one of the shelters if no other choice is available. If you are able to keep your pet in a safe home, it is often advisable to have pet tranquilizers available.  Contact your veterinarian well in advance of the problem to discuss this possibility.  Hurricanes are tremendously frightening to animals and they may be difficult to control and calm.


Horses and livestock, of course, cannot be brought to Pet Hurricane Shelters. They should be boarded in barns that are strong enough to withstand the full storm surge. Sometimes it is better to leave them in a fenced pasture.  Be sure your horses and other livestock are wearing identification so they can be reunited with you if they get loose and wander or become injured during the storm.  Of course, secure all objects that may become deadly missiles during the storm.
When the storm is over be careful about letting your pets outside. There are many hazards to pets (and people) after a severe storm including broken glass, downed power lines, and dangerous debris.  Your pet may become confused by the change to his normal environment and wander off and become lost. All pets should always wear identification in the form of a collar and tag, and a permanent identification microchip.  We advise that you have your pets implanted with a microchip now, instead of waiting until a threat is imminent. Microchip implantation is a safe, and painless procedure that does not require anesthesia and only requires a few minutes. This tiny device is injected under the skin and becomes a permanent means of identifying your pet.  After Hurricane Andrew a huge undertaking was reuniting lost pets with their owners.  In all too many cases, that never occurred and new homes had to be found for the storm orphans.
In addition, after the storm you will need to be sure that your pet does not consume any contaminated food or water since garbage pickup may be nonexistent for a while.
The chance of an injury occurring is a possibility, as we saw when we worked in the makeshift clinics treating often severely hurt pets in Dade County after Hurricane Andrew.  It may not be easy to get to a veterinarian after the storm has passed due to roads being blocked and phone lines down.
One of my strongest recommendations is to be ready for this possibility.  Sign up for our Pet CPR/First Aid class that we teach every three or four months.  In that one-evening class you will learn how to deal with many types of emergency injuries such as bleeding, broken bones, electrocution and suffocation.  You will also be taught CPR on a realistic dog CPR mannequin.  Give us a call for the date of the next class.
For further information on how you and your four-legged loved ones can weather a hurricane:


  1. Go to and create your own Family Disaster Plan. It will tell you how much food and water you and your family will need, what your evacuation route is in your area. It gives you a Pet Disaster Supply List. It gives you a First Aid Kit list etc.
  2. Go to or for more pet related info
  3. Please call your veterinarian
  4. Call the American Red Cross at 561-833-7711.
  5. Palm Beach County Animal Care & Control will accept pre-registered pets from people living in mandatory evacuation zones who are going to a Red Cross Shelter. Space is limited. Pet owners are responsible for crates, pet medications, food, toys, etc. Pet are to arrive no earlier than 24 hours prior to landfall, and owners are required to pick up their pet within 48 hours after landfall. AC & C accepts the following types of pets: dogs, cats, pet birds, and small pocket pets. All animals are required to have all current vaccinations, tags and bands. No aggressive animals accepted. For pre-registration call 561-233-1266
  6. If you lose you pet, start your search quickly. Call the animal control office in your municipality, Palm Beach County Animal Care & Control, your veterinarian and animal rescue leagues. Animal Shelters to look for you lost pet(s):
    • Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League, 3200 N. Military Trail, West Palm Beach, 561-656-3663
    • Tri-County Humane Society, 21287 Boca Rio Road, Boca Raton, 561-482-8110
    • Boynton Beach Animal Control, 415 NE 4th Street, Boynton Beach, 561-375-6210
    • You can also check The Palm Beach Post (561-820-4343) or the Sun Sentinel (561-736-9700) or other local papers in “Lost & Found” listings.
  7. Hotels: If you choose to go to a hotel/motel, call and make reservations. The following hotels/motels located west of I-95 accept pets:
  8. Fairfield Inn & Suites, Jupiter 561-748-5252
  9. La Quinta Inn in Jupiter 561-575-7201
  10. PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens 561-627-2000
  11. Double Tree Hotel in Palm Beach Gardens 561-622-2260
  12. Homewood Studio’s by Hilton in Palm Beach Gardens 561-622-7799
  13. Comfort Inn in West Palm Beach 561-689-6100
  14. Homestead Village Guest Studios in Boca Raton 561-994-2599
  15. Residence Inn by Marriott in Boca Raton 561-994-3222
  16. , ,,,,, & are great websites for owners when traveling.

Harmony is a Cat Friendly Practice

Harmony Animal Hospital Implements Cat Friendly Practice Program

Cat Friendly Designation Elevates Cat Care

The cat is king. With cats being the most beloved pet in the country, there is a growing need to improve the health care and overall well-being of the feline population. Whether it’s a routine checkup or special visit, the staff at  Harmony Animal Hospital is committed to ensuring that cats get the best care. And, to further its dedication, the clinic recently implemented the Cat Friendly Practice (CFP) program to offer pet owners more at every phase of the cat’s health care process.

“We are committed to providing quality care to our feline patients,” said Dr. Jillian Sweet of Harmony Animal Hospital. “When we heard about the CFP program, we knew it was time to take a fresh look at the practice to determine what could be done to make the veterinary visit more positive for cats and cat owners.”

This Program Puts Cats First

The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) pioneered the CFP program to provide a framework for creating a positive practice environment for cats, including medical care that supports the cat’s unique needs and knowledgeable staff members who understand feline-friendly handling.

“The AAFP realizes that cats present unique challenges before, during, and after a veterinary visit,” said Dr. Susan Little, DVM, DABVP (Feline) & President, American Association of Feline Practitioners. “Some things that can cause cat anxiety include aversion to carriers, sensitivity to new sights and smells, and the added stress of an unfamiliar location or experience.
Understanding these obstacles helped to shape the CFP program and its dedication to putting the needs of cats first.”

At a CFP-designated clinic, the veterinary staff incorporates cat-friendly features into the physical environment of the practice including special waiting rooms or waiting accommodations, feline-sensitive examination rooms and ward facilities, and equipment appropriate specifically for cats.

Staff members also approach cat care in a different manner. The staff learns how to understand the needs of the cat such as how to interpret a cat’s facial expression and body language. Furthermore, the staff is well-trained in alternate techniques to calm an anxious cat and ensure that exams and procedures do not escalate anxiety.

Harmony Animal Hospital Boosts Cat Care

“We evaluated every aspect of the practice and its environment from the perspective of the cat,” Dr. Sweet said.
“We can proudly say that from the minute they walk through the door, our patients and clients will be part of a welcoming, comfortable experience that will ultimately lead to the improved health of our feline patients.”

For more information about what it means to you and your cat(s) for us to become a Cat Friendly Practice and makes us different from the neighboring veterinary clinics visit:

And visit  so you can learn how you can create a Cat Friendly Home for your feline friend(s),

Fear Free Visits

We just wanted to briefly pinpoint some things that will help make your future veterinary appointments with us be as stress-free as possible for your pet AND you!


  • Bring them Hungry! (unless diabetic or otherwise medically unadvised)
    • MORNING APPOINTMENTS: skip breakfast and wait until you return from your appointment
    • DAYTIME APPOINTMENTS: feed a reduced amount of their regular meal
    • EVENING APPOINTMENTS: wait until you return home to feed dinner!.  If your pet has dietary restrictions (ie: allergies), please bring approved treats with you or even some of your pets dry kibble to be used as treats while at their appointment.


  • Carriers:  place your pet’s carrier in your living area as far in advance of your appointment as possible. We recommend that the carrier always be left as a fixture of your home to eliminate their reacting negatively to it when it is presented on appointment day. Cats carriers should be covered with a towel or blanket during the drive and when bringing into the appointment. If you need help getting your cat used to his/her carrier here is a great video to watch.


  • Leashes: NO Retractable Leashes! Please leave retractables at home!  We will happily give you a leash to use during your visit if you do not have anything other than a retractable.  If you arrive with one, please keep it LOCKED and ask for a leash from the front desk.


  • Waiting: If you feel your pet will be better off NOT waiting in the waiting area, please call upon your arrival and we can move your pet directly to an exam room or you may wait in your vehicle until a nurse is ready for you.


Remember, we want this to be a pleasant experience for your pet AND you!  The medical staff may decide to prioritize your pet’s care (ie: treat the ears but skip the nail trim) OR reschedule your appointment with a new treatment plan in order to keep their fear and anxiety level as low as possible. Visit the link for more information on Fear Free practices


We look forward to seeing you!