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Make Emergency Pet Plans for Hurricane Season

By on May 24, 2010

TALLAHASSEE — Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson is reminding Floridians to create an emergency response plan for their animals as hurricane season approaches.  Bronson says people should not wait until the last minute to think about how they are going to evacuate or shelter their animals during a disaster.  People may need to leave their homes quickly and a well-thought-out plan will help ensure the safety of animals and the peace of mind of their owners.

Bronson’s Division of Animal Industry website (click on “Emergency Management”) links to numerous websites that provide information about pet-friendly emergency shelters and hotels.  There is also extensive emergency preparedness information for owners of large and small animals.  Some tips for people with animals include:

Pets and Small Animals

Leaving pets behind during an evacuation is not recommended because the animals can easily be injured, lost or killed.  Owners should find out now if any local boarding facilities or veterinary offices can shelter their animals in an emergency.  They should also contact hotels outside their immediate area to determine which allow animals and whether there are any size restrictions.

— Keep ID tags and vaccinations up to date.

— Prepare a pet evacuation kit, including food and water for one week, a manual can opener, medications, medical/vaccination records, a pet carrier, and bedding.

— When traveling, properly secure pets in the vehicle.

Horses and Livestock

During an emergency, the time you have to evacuate your horses will be limited.  With an effective emergency plan, you may have enough time to move your horses to safety.  Livestock are difficult to evacuate so it is important to make plans to shelter them in place safely.

— Keep vaccinations and other health requirements up to date.

— If possible, make arrangements in advance for evacuation of horses.  Know where you can take your horses for shelter along your evacuation route.

— Make sure your horse trailer is “ready to go” or other transport arrangements are prepared well in advance.

— Include animal handling equipment and a supply of feed and water.

— Carry your vaccination record, Coggins test and health papers with you.

— Have a point of destination before departure and be sure to evacuate early to avoid traffic delays.

If evacuation is not possible:

— Reinforce your barn, and outbuildings with hurricane straps or other devices.

— Secure or remove anything that could become blowing debris.

— Open gates or remove fencing so that animals may move to high ground in a flood and to low-lying areas during high winds.

— Install a hand pump for your well and fill enough large containers with water for your animals for at least a week.

— Identify alternate water and power sources.  A generator with a safely stored supply of fuel may be essential, especially if you have electrical equipment necessary to the well being of your animals.

“People will have enough to deal with in protecting themselves and their families during a natural disaster or other emergency,” Bronson said.  “If they have a plan in place for pets and livestock, that is one less thing they will need to worry about at the last minute.”

Liz Compton
(850) 488-3022

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