Just as people were starting to recover from Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma approached and safety preparations were underway. Approximately one-third of Florida’s population evacuated before Hurricane Irma reached land. Millions of people had to leave behind most of their belongings and didn’t know what condition their homes would be in when they returned. But it’s not just the people who are being impacted by natural disasters, it’s animals too.
Hurricane Irma: Possible charges for those who left their animals behind
One possession that most people were sure to take with them as they evacuated was their pet. Between 37% and 47% of American households have a dog or a puppy. Unfortunately, not all animals were lucky enough to be taken when their owners evacuated. According to USA Today, dozens of dogs were found tied up or in enclosed areas, unable to escape. Authorities say they may pursue felony charges against those who neglected to take their animals with them.
Animal shelters across the country have opened their doors to any animals that were not evacuated. People are sending food, toys, and other supplies to help shelters who have taken in abandoned or stray animals. In addition, people are encouraging families who are looking to add a pet to their family to consider adopting an animal affected by the hurricane.
What should you do if you and your animals need to evacuate?
Animal care might not be the first thing you think of when you’re planning to evacuate your home, but it certainly is something important you should think about. There are a few things you should do if you find yourself in the path of a natural disaster to ensure your pet’s safety:
- Have rescue stickers on the windows of your house. These tell anyone who comes to your house that there are animals inside. If you have time before you evacuate, make sure to write “evacuated” on the sticker to tell rescuers your animals are safe.
- Contact local shelters to find out their policy on emergencies. If for some reason you absolutely cannot take your animal with you, do not leave them in your house alone. Contact local shelters and see if they can temporarily house your animal until you can take them with you.
- Contact hotels you are planning on staying at and make surethey are pet-friendly.
- Designatean emergency contact. If for some reason you cannot make it home to evacuate your animals safely, make sure you have someone, like a neighbor or friend, who you can ask to see that your pet is brought to safety.
How to prepare a pet emergency kit
There are a few essential supplies you should try to bring with you if you have to evacuate with your pets:
- pet first aid kit
- any medications your pet may need
- a few days’ worth of dry food and water
- litter or paper towels if you have a cat
- garbage bags
- food dishes and water bowls
- extra collar, harness, and leash if you have a dog or puppy
- important documents, including vaccination records and pet insurance policies
- carrier or bag for traveling
- blankets and towels
Whether you have a cat, a puppy, a cow, or any other animal, there is no excuse to leave them behind if you have to evacuate. Make sure you are prepared, especially if you live in a natural disaster-prone area.