(PET SAFETY) With storm winds reaching as high as 130 mph today, Hurricane Florence is expected to slam North and South Carolina as a Category 4 storm by the end of the week.

During such chaos, animal guardians are often unsure as how best to care for their pets. Others refuse to evacuate if they cannot bring their pets along. However, not evacuating may put you and your beloved pet into harm’s way.

In preparation of the potentially catastrophic storm, here are some helpful tips on how to keep you and your pets safe during a natural disaster.

Responding to a resident report, the HSUS animal rescue team returns successfully with two cats trapped in a home. Photo Credit: Anthony Rathbun/Humane Society of the United States via AP Images

How To Prep Your Pet For Disaster

  • Make sure your pet has received necessary vaccinations
  • Attach an identification tag to your pet’s collar
  • Have your pet microchipped
  • Make sure people know a pet is in the house. Making signs indicating the number and types of pets present cues your neighbors to call for help and notifies rescue teams to save your pets should you be out when an emergency occurs.

Now that your pet has been microchipped and vaccinated, here is a list of supplies you should have packed and ready to go just in case disaster hits.

What To Pack For When Disaster Strikes

  • Leashes
  • Bowls
  • Towels
  • Blankets
  • At least a week’s supply of food and medication
  • Litter Box
  • Poop bags or garbage bags
  • A carrier for transporting your cat which can be used as a sleeping place
  • Dog Harness
  • A carrier for your dog’s sleeping area
  • Photo of your pet
  • Description of your pet including information such as medical conditions, behavior, and feeding schedule
  • Veterinarian’s phone number and address

Many pet guardians refuse to evacuate their homes as many centers do not allow pets. If forced to leave your home, here are some tips to help you find accommodations for you and your pet — do not leave your pet behind.

Evacuation Tips

  • Check beforehand to see if your storm shelter will lodge pets. — In natural disasters, we are often flustered by the chaos. While we wouldn’t think twice about bringing our pet with us to a storm shelter, some shelters do not allow animals. So, check to see if the storm shelter in your area will allow your pet. If the shelter cannot accommodate your pet, try checking different disaster shelters, motels, hotels, and the homes of your family and friends who are safe from the disaster to see where you can safely sojourn with your pet. Also be prepared to board your pet — your pet’s information you already prepared will come in handy here.
  • Do not leave your pet alone. — During such an emergency, we cannot be certain of the duration or the magnitude of the natural disaster. Therefore, bring your pets with as they face the same dangers you would by staying home. Pets left at home can be injured by debris and face possible starvation and dehydration. In short, if you need to evacuate, bring your pet too.
  • Keep your pets indoors and ready to leave. — If required to evacuate your home, you will not want to be frantically searching for your pet. Thus, dogs should be leashed and cats in carriers in order to make an easy evacuation.

While you will be more than ready to return home and let your pet roam free, do not immediately give your pet free reign of the house.

During a natural disaster, do not leave your pet alone. Photo Credit: Reuters/Mark Wallheiser

After The Disaster

When the disaster clears and you can return home, do not let your pet run free as dangerous objects and debris may be strewn both inside and outside your home. Your pet may also become disoriented or stressed if the disaster completely disheveled your home.

While natural disasters are unpredictable, we can best cope with an emergency by being prepared. By keeping up-to-date on our pet’s vaccinations, having all the supplies needed to help our pet’s through the emergency, and having a plan will prevent a larger headache when chaos occurs. Feel free to post your tips on how to cope with Hurricane Irene and other natural disasters below.

— Joseph Turner, exclusive to Global Animal