As Hurricane Matthew bears down on the states of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, pet owners are taking precautions for the well-being of all of their family members, including their pets. Animal advocates, state and municipal authorities and shelters are urging pet owners to keep their animals safe from the wrath of Matthew. While today's blog focuses on the most imminent danger of Matthew, all of today's suggestions and tips will help out in most emergency and/or disaster situations.
ASPCA & PETA
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals [ASPCA] were the first to activate a disaster response team specifically for Matthew, in anticipation that includes animal rescue and shelter needs throughout the Southeast U.S., during the storm.
Their website includes a pledge that seeks 100,000 signatures. It is currently at 1927 [as of this post]. By agreeing and signing the pledge, each petitioner will receive a free window sticker, that states you have an “Animal Inside” your dwelling and provides a checklist for pet owners to list their “type of pet” and the phone number of who to call “in case of fire or emergency.”
However, leaving your pet behind should be a pet owner's last recourse. According to PETA, "If you are being evacuated, never leave animals behind," PETA said. "There is no way of knowing what may happen to your home while you are away, and you may not be able to return for days or even weeks. Animal companions left behind may become malnourished or dehydrated or be crushed by collapsing walls. They may drown or escape in panic and become lost."
"The ASPCA stands ready to assist animals in Matthew’s path, but the first and best line of defense for pets will always be a well-prepared owner,” Dr. Dick Green, Senior Director of Disaster Response for the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response team, said in a statement.
The non-profit animal advocacy organization recommended that pets wear ID tags with current contact information, and that owners prepare "portable emergency kits" with items such as medical records, water bowls, extra food and medications. In addition, also include a crate or carrier, a collar or leash and clean-up supplies for your dogs and cats.
If you had the luxury of time to plan in advance, it’s important to know that most shelters typically do not take pets. So seek out shelters that accept pets, and research the veterinarians that are located in that area, in case your pet needs attention during that time period. Also, you would have needed to make sure your pet is up to date on all his vaccinations and has an ID [actually in today’s world, microchipping is the best way to identify pets should they become lost].
Final word on Matthew . . .
The storm is expected to run parallel to the coast of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, as it tracks closer to land over the next two days. Officials have warned of the potential for historic storm surges in parts of these states, in addition to severe flooding. In North Carolina, military pet owners at Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina, will not be able to bring their animals to on-base shelters.
“Service animals are permitted; however due to local and state health and safety regulations, Red Cross-supported shelters do not allow pets in disaster shelters,” said Nat Fahy, a spokesman for both installations. “Our shelters are supported by the Armed Services chapter of the American Red Cross.”
A sound, well-thought out plan can help you weather the storm with your pets, with the least amount of stress. Safe safe and well-prepared this hurricane season.