Planning for a storm event, means planning for pets also. If you evacuate, so should your pet. If it’s not safe for you to stay, it’s not safe for your pet either. There’s plenty you can do now, well before an evacuation, to have your pet ready to go. Do not let lack of planning for your pet cause you both to stay in a dangerous situation. Prepare now to properly care for your pet in a storm evacuation.
Pets should be microchipped and be current with all vaccines. Be sure to register your current contact information. Lee County has a microchip program. Learn more at leegov.com/animal services.
Service animals, defined as a dog or miniature horse that is trained to perform a service, are allowed at all shelters. Comfort or emotional support animals are considered pets, not service animals.
Lee County will designate Pet-Friendly Shelters in the event of an evacuation. During the Irma evacuation, most shelters accepted pets, but don’t assume that will be the case next time. Just as with people, a shelter should be your last resort. Look for an alternative with inland friends or family, or an out of area motel that welcomes pets.
Pets need a go-kit, just as their humans do. Most importantly, you’ll need a crate or carrier that your pet will fit into comfortably and where they will feel safe. Pack water and food bowls, health and vaccine records and medications, familiar treats, toys and bedding to help reduce stress. Remember litter boxes and litter for cats. Put a collar on your pet, even cats, and bring a leash. Pets can be spooked by the noise and confusion that often accompany evacuation and life in a strange place. Help them remain calm with familiar items.
Bring newspapers, paper towels, plastic bags and bleach for clean-up. Familiar food and treats to last a week and one gallon of water per pet per day. Pack pet-friendly bug spray that does not contain DEET.
A photo of you with your pet, digital or hard copy, may help document ownership if you become separated.
If you are registered for a Special Needs Shelter, you will be able to bring your pet with you. They will be housed in a separate area, but you will have access to feed, walk and spend time with them.
By Missy Layfield
Learn more about hurricane preparation with the Lee Hazards Guide at bit.ly/LeeHazardsGuide