WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. --Thousands of animals are lost in the aftermath of hurricanes each year, and as owners are forced to evacuate their homes, they are often not permitted to bring their beloved pets along to shelters.
As we approach another active storm seasons in South Florida, Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League encourages pet owners to avoid potential tragedies by taking the following steps to prepare for a hurricane:
*Never leave your pet home alone or outside. The safest place for your pet is with you! Left alone, your pet may be subject to injuries from structural damage, flooding and excessive heat after a storm.
*Equip pets with a collar and identification tag containing visible and accurate information in case the owner is separated from his or her pet. Micro-chipped pets have a much better chance of being reunited with their owners!
*Practice a run-through, including introducing your pet to the “safe room” you’ll take shelter in during the storm. Don’t let the actual hurricane be the first time your dog or cat spends time in the walk-in closet or downstairs bathroom, for example.
*During the hurricane drill, introduce the pet’s everyday activities in the safe room to increase maximum comfort later. Try everything – placing animals in their carriers, have them eat and drink in this room, etc.
*Develop a list of pet-friendly shelters nearby – including a list of hotels that allow pets – and keep it in a safe place for easy access as a storm approaches. Visit petswelcome.com to find a pet-friendly hotel.
*Be sure all animals are up to date with vaccines and keep records with you.
*Owners should have photos taken of themselves with their pets and keep them in a safe, readily available place, like a wallet or purse, for identification purposes.
*Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League also recommends that pet owners create a pet emergency kit with supplies that are restocked every few months. See attached checklist.
Dr. Valerie Bullock, a veterinarian at Banfield Pet Hospital says it is best to keep your pet with you.
"The most important thing is that we try to keep them with us," Bullock said. "If we can try to put a comprehensive plan, if we can get ahead of the disaster and be prepared through this disaster preparedness kit then we will be able to do that."
After Hurricane Harvey and Maria thousands of animals got separated from their owners and were flown to shelters across the country.