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Hurricane safety tips for pets

Photo by News Mississippi

With Tropical Storm Gordon approaching, pet safety is also important to keep in mind.

“It was heartbreaking after Hurricane Katrina to hear stories of Mississippians that died because they did not evacuate because they did not want to leave their pets,” said MEMA Executive Director Lee Smithson. “It was also tough to see hundreds of pets wandering the streets, looking for their owners and homes that were gone after the storm. A pet plan is essential.”

Photo courtesy of Hannah Jo Booth

Here are some important things to remember when putting together your plan:

Before the disaster:

  • Make sure that your pets are current on their vaccinations. Pet shelters may require proof of vaccines.
  • Have a current photograph of your pet.
  • Keep a collar with identification on your pet and have a leash to control your pet.
  • Have a properly-sized pet carrier for each animal – carriers should be large enough for the animal to stand and turn around.
  • Plan your evacuation strategy and don’t forget your pet. Specialized pet shelters, animal control shelters, veterinary clinics, friends and relatives out of harm’s way are ALL potential refuges for your pet during a disaster.
  • If you plan to shelter your pet, work it into your evacuation route planning.

During the disaster:

  • Animals brought to a pet shelter could be required to have: proper identification collar and rabies tag, proper identification on all belongings, a carrier or cage, a leash, an ample supply of food, water and food bowls, any necessary medications, specific care instructions and newspapers, litter boxes or trash bags for clean-up.
  • Bring pets indoors well in advance of a storm – reassure them and remain calm.
  • Pet shelters will be filled on first come, first served basis. Call ahead and determine availability.


    After the disaster:

    • Walk pets on a leash until they become re-oriented to their home. Often familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and pets could easily be confused and become lost. Also, downed power lines, reptiles brought in with high water and debris can all pose a threat for animals after a disaster.
    • If pets cannot be found after a disaster, contact the local animal control office to find out where lost animals can be recovered. Bring along a picture of your pet if possible.
    • After a disaster, animals can become aggressive or defensive – monitor their behavior.

    Pet disaster supply kit:

    • Proper identification including immunization records.
    • Ample supply of food and water.
    • A carrier or cage.
    • Medications.
    • Muzzle, collar and leash.
    • Clean-up materials (trash bags, old newspapers, litter box, etc.)

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