2022 North Carolina Hurricane Season: How to Protect Your Pets

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As we enter hurricane season – June 1 to November 30 each year – and you begin to prepare for what to do in the event of a storm, make sure your plans include your pets.

Hurricanes can be dangerous and deadly for pets as well as people, and it’s important to take steps to protect them during storms.

If you’re not sure where to start to add your pets to your hurricane preparedness checklist, we’ve compiled these tips, using information from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Here’s what to know to keep your pets safe during a hurricane or tropical storm.

Prepare a hurricane emergency kit for your pet

One of the best ways to prepare for hurricanes and other natural disasters is to prepare emergency kits for your household, with enough food and water for several days, batteries, flashlights and more.

Your pets should also have an emergency kit.

FEMA recommends including the following items in your pet’s emergency kit:

  • Food for several days in an airtight and waterproof container. As a general rule, pack enough food for three to seven days.
  • A bowl of water and several days of water supply. Carry enough water for three to seven days
  • An additional supply of the medication your pet is taking. Put the medicine in an airtight container.
  • A leash, backup leash, collar, updated ID and rabies tag.
  • Copies of your pet’s registration information and other relevant documents. Put the documents in a waterproof container and have them available in electronic or digital form, if possible.
  • Travel bag, cage or sturdy transport cage for each animal.
  • Grooming items, such as pet shampoo and other items.
  • Pet litter and litter box, newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags and household bleach to meet your pet’s sanitary needs.
  • A photo, like a selfie, of you and your pet together. “If you are separated from your pet during an emergency, a photo will help document ownership and allow others to help identify your pet,” FEMA says.
  • Familiar items, such as favorite toys, treats, or bedding. Familiar objects can help reduce your pet’s stress in an emergency.

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Local firefighter Chasity Hewett, left, and her fiancé, Fire Chief Westly Dorsch, center, helped a U.S. Coast Guard crew navigate the flooded streets of their tight-knit community in Crusoe Island, NC, to rescue animals that remained after emergency evacuations from those who underestimated Hurricane Florence, Wednesday, September 20, 2018 in Columbus County, North Carolina. Casey Toth [email protected]

Evacuate from a hurricane with your pets

If you decide to evacuate your home, or if local authorities ask you to do so, your pets must evacuate with you.

When you evacuate, bring your own emergency kits and those of your pets.

If you think you might be asked to evacuate, FEMA suggests practicing evacuating with your pets by riding them in a vehicle similar to the one you will use to evacuate. This will help them feel more comfortable if or when you actually bug out.

You should also familiarize your pets with the carrier they will be in during your evacuation, if applicable.

If you plan to go to a shelter when you evacuate, you should keep in mind that not all shelters accept pets. Make a plan ahead of time about where you will be going and whether they will allow pets. You may decide to stay with a friend or family member out of town, or at a hotel rather than a shelter, if you cannot find a pet-friendly shelter option.

How to Find Pet-Friendly Emergency Shelters

If you’re looking for pet-friendly shelters or hotels to use when evacuating from a hurricane, the CDC suggests the following online resources:

bringfido.com (also available by phone at 877-411-FIDO)

dogfriendly.com (also available by phone at 888-281-5170)

pet-friendly-hotels.net (also available by phone at 866-966-3046)

petswelcome.com

travelwithanimals.com

You can also check with local animal shelters, local governments, or local rescue organizations to see if they will offer pet-friendly shelters or about organizations that will during the storm.

Shelter-in-place with pets during a hurricane

If you are not told to evacuate and you decide to shelter in place during a hurricane, the CDC offers these tips to learn how to keep your pets safe and comfortable while you weather the storm:

When choosing a room to shelter in, make sure it’s as safe as possible – usually interior rooms with few or no windows are best.

Remove any tools, chemicals, or plants from the room that could be poisonous or harmful to your pet.

If you have cats, close off any small areas in the room where they might get stuck, such as air vents or under heavy furniture.

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Casey Toth [email protected]

Caring for Large Animals During a Hurricane

If you have large animals, such as horses, pigs, cows, or goats, FEMA offers additional tips for caring for these animals in an emergency and keeping them safe:

  • Make sure all animals have some sort of identification, such as a tag or collar.
  • Evacuate large animals early, if possible. If you think you and your family may need to evacuate during the storm, plan ahead and move any large animals before you evacuate. Map out primary and secondary evacuation routes in advance to help you plan this.
  • Have vehicles and trailers available to transport and support each type of animal. Also make sure you have experienced dog handlers and drivers available to transport your animals, especially if you are unable to do so.
  • Make sure your evacuation destinations have food, water, veterinary care and handling equipment for your animals.
  • If evacuation isn’t possible, FEMA says, you “must decide whether to move large animals into a barn or release them outside.”

Additional Resources

For more information on how to protect your pets during hurricanes and other natural disasters, you can visit:

ready.gov/pets

cdc.gov/healthypets/keeping-pets-and-people-healthy/emergencies.html

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Korie Dean is a reporter with The News & Observer’s service journalism team. She is a graduate of the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at UNC-Chapel Hill and a lifelong North Carolina.

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