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:
- Go to floridadisaster.org 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.
- Go to petvets.com or www.humanesociety.org/prepare for more pet related info
- Please call your veterinarian
- Call the American Red Cross at 561-833-7711.
- 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
- 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.
- 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:
- Fairfield Inn & Suites, Jupiter 561-748-5252
- La Quinta Inn in Jupiter 561-575-7201
- PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens 561-627-2000
- Double Tree Hotel in Palm Beach Gardens 561-622-2260
- Homewood Studio’s by Hilton in Palm Beach Gardens 561-622-7799
- Comfort Inn in West Palm Beach 561-689-6100
- Homestead Village Guest Studios in Boca Raton 561-994-2599
- Residence Inn by Marriott in Boca Raton 561-994-3222
- http://www.floridapets.net , tripswithpets.com , www.bringfido.com, www.dogfriendly.com, www.pet-friendly-hotels.net, www.petswelcome.com, & www.fidofriendly.com are great websites for owners when traveling.