Disaster planning for residents with pets

September 8, 2017
By Marcy Shortuse

Residents with pets face additional tasks when preparing for a disaster. All Charlotte County shelters accept pets except the special needs shelters. Pet owners are encouraged to prepare ahead of time, should there be a need to evacuate for a possible disaster. Pet-friendly shelters provide a safer refuge than your home in the event of an emergency. The shelter will also keep you updated on the state of the emergency. By planning ahead and following the tips below, residents can reduce stress during these difficult times.
Your pet’s emergency kit should be part of your family emergency evacuation plan. It should be prepared before an emergency occurs by having the following items in a safe and readily accessible place:
A list of pet-friendly hotels/motels;
Veterinarian contact information (for questions related to boarding facilities or medical conditions);
An identification tag for your pet, which includes your contact information;
A current photo of you and your pet together;
A crate (w/bedding) large enough for your animal to move around in as well as to hold water, food, or litter;
A collar and leash (or a muzzle if needed);
A seven-day supply of litter/food/water, including feeding bowls & manual can openers;
Cleaning supplies – paper towels, newspapers, disinfectant, plastic bags;
Medications & current medical records (be sure to include current vaccinations records and rabies tag/microchip information);
Pet comfort items (toys, blankets, treats, etc.);
Out-of-area contact information, including names, addresses and phone numbers.
The following information from the American Humane Society may assist in planning for dealing with your pets during an emergency situation:
NEVER leave animals behind. Review your evacuation plans and know a safe place where your pets can go if you need to evacuate.
Microchip your pets and properly affix a tag on your pet’s collar with your name, address and cell phone number, so they may be returned quickly in case you are separated from your pets.
Consider registering with mobiPET, a free new, high-tech, visual “Amber Alert” for missing pets that helps reunite lost pets with their owners. Get additional information at www.mobipet.me.
Tie down or anchor outside objects that might fly about and injure someone, including your pet.
Double-check your disaster preparedness kit for your pets to make sure you have a first-aid kit, leashes, pets’ carrying cases, bowls, sanitation materials, chew toys, and a minimum of 3 but preferably 7 to 10 days’ supply of food, meds and water.
Evacuate your family and pets as early as you can, and remember to take your family’s and pets’ disaster preparedness kit.
Bring children and pets inside; bring outdoor animals inside with a carrier large enough for them to turn around in and lie down comfortably.
If your family must evacuate, ALWAYS take your pets with you.
If you can’t evacuate, choose a safe room for riding out the storm – an interior room without windows – and take your entire family, including your pets, there.
Keep your emergency preparedness kits in the same room with you.
Know your pets’ hiding places; that is where they may run to.
Secure exits and pet doors so pets can’t escape into the storm.
Make sure the storm has fully passed before going outside to assess damages and before allowing children or animals out.
Keep dogs on a leash and cats in a carrier, and keep children close at hand. Displaced objects and fallen trees can disorient pets, and sharp debris could harm them.
Give pets time to become reoriented. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and cause a pet to become confused or lost.
Keep children and pets away from hazards such as downed power lines and water that could be contaminated.
Changes in their normal environment could cause pets to become stressed and behave more aggressively or become self-protective. Be sensitive to these changes and keep more room between them and others. Comfort your pet with kind words and lots of pats or hugs. If possible, provide a safe and quiet place for your pets, even if it is not their own home.
Pet Shelter Rules:
Owners are responsible for all daily care of their pets, which includes (but is not limited to) feeding, exercising and cleaning up after their pets.
Cage or crate doors must be latched and secured when pet is inside.
Pets are required to be leashed at all times when they are out of the crate.
Aggressive animals classified as dangerous (pursuant to F.S.S. 767.12) will not be allowed in the shelter.
Pets are not permitted in the residents’ living areas.
Currently, the pet-friendly shelter houses dogs and cats only.
Pet owners are liable for any/all damages which are caused by their pet. This includes (but is not limited to) property damage, animal bites, animal attacks and any related injuries.
You will be required to sign a release of liability at the time of entry into the shelter. Charlotte County reserves the right to deny access to any animal.
Leaving your pet behind in a disaster decreases its chance of survival dramatically. Please plan ahead for your safety as well as that of your pets. For more information before an emergency, residents can contact Charlotte County Animal Control at 941-833-5690.
Media and public can follow Charlotte County Emergency Management’s important emergency information at www.charlottecountyfl.gov, www.facebook.com/oemcharlottecounty, and www.twitter.com/ccoem.