Be prepared for yourself. As your pet’s guardian, your pets are dependent on you and the decisions you make. When Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the Gulf Coast in 2005, FEMA reported approximately 600,000 pets were either killed or left without shelter.
In addition to advance microchipping your pet, have your pet wear a collar with ID tag and rabies tag. If someone finds your pet, they can locate you without a microchip reader. Carry pictures of your pet to aid in finding a lost pet.
Visit the Monroe County Emergency Services website at www.monroecountyem.com to learn about evacuation and reentry procedures. In advance of hurricane season, prepare an evacuation pack for your pet. This pack should include: Food and water for two weeks. Keep dry food sealed in waterproof containers; Water and food bowls; Kitty litter and litter trays for cats and plenty of plastic poop bags for dogs; Carry proof of vaccinations and a copy of your pet’s medical records; A comfortable pet carrier and leashes; Make sure your pet is current on all relevant vaccines (rabies, lepto, boardatella, distemper); A 30-day supply of your pet’s medication including heartworm, flea and tick prevention; Bedding that your pet uses. If too bulky, bring several towels; A muzzle if your pet will become aggressive around other animals or in fearful situations; Your veterinarian contact info and emergency responder phone numbers.
The preparation for a storm and evacuation process will likely be stressful on your pet. Make special efforts to minimize the stress caused to your pet. Bring extra food motivators like treats. Bring familiar toys, blankets and bedding if possible. Look for common signs of fear; hiding, trembling or shaking, sudden urination or defecation, pacing, chewing, digging, barking or howling and an abnormal clinging behavior around the pet’s owner.
Take time to comfort your pet often when your pet is fearful. Pet owners can also create a safe haven where their pet can retreat to when the pet feels threatened. Some animals find refuge in small spaces, such as a closet or their crate. Consider putting their favorite blanket and toys in these areas to create a sense of familiarity and security.
When evacuating, don’t wait too long to get your cat in its carrier. It may take some time to capture a scared cat.
Use the FDOT 511 Travelers Information System to get current evacuation information, road closures and toll suspensions during emergencies like severe weather, flooding, hurricanes or wildfires. Try to make your evacuation location as friendly as possible for your pet.
Pet Friendly shelters in Monroe County (for Category 1 and 2 storms only) are located: At Key West High School, 2100 Flagler Avenue; At Sugarloaf School, 225 Crane Blvd; Marathon High School, 350 Sombrero Road; At Coral Shores High School, 89591 Overseas Highway, mile marker 89.9.
If evacuating to a Monroe County pet friendly shelter, you should pre-register your pets and review shelter requirements at www.monroecountyem.com.
In a Category 3 or higher storm, Monroe County shelters will not be available. Monroe County residents and their pets can seek public shelter at the E Darwin Fuchs Pavilion located at the Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition, 10901 SW 24th St., Miami.
Don’t let you pet outdoors after the storm passes until you know it is safe. Fallen electrical lines, glass and debris chards, storm surges, flooding and unseen hazards can injure your pet at a time when care may not be immediately available.
The column was provided by Island Hammock Pet Hospital, mile marker 98.1 on the ocean side of U.S. 1.