Hurricane preparation tips for pet owners
WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — As you make preparations before Hurricane Florence’s arrival, it is critical not to forget about having an emergency plan for your pet(s).
Deputy Stephen Watson with New Hanover County Animal Services recommends before a hurricane strikes, plan ahead.
“Preparation and planning is essential for dealing with pets and hurricanes,” he said.
“If you’re not going to evacuate, make certain that you are going to the animal shelter at Trask Middle School or if you are planning to leave the area, there are several routes out of Wilmington that you can plan your stops if you have to stay at a pet-friendly hotel,” he said.
Just as humans should stock food and water supplies before a hurricane, should also ample supplies of canned and dry food for your pets as well as any medications they may need.
Watson recommends stockpiling a minimum of three to five days of food and water.
“You can boil water but if you don’t have that capability, use an eighth of a teaspoon of chlorine bleach that’s unscented and stir into the water and let it stand for 30 minutes,” he said.
In New Hanover County, if you place your pet in a shelter you must remember to retrieve it within a timely manner after a hurricane passes.
“With Petco location shelters, the owners must remain on premises. The dogs and cats will be managed by the professional ASC staff and schedule walking times with the owners,” Stephen said. “So when that shelter closes, then the owners must take their pets with them.”
At the main New Hanover County Shelter on 180 Division Drive in Wilmington, the owner must pick up their pet within 24 hours after a state of emergency is lifted,” he said.
Once a hurricane passes and you turn your pets outside, there are other risks in which to be aware.
“A lot of time what occurs is that fences are broken by trees and limbs, or blown over so the owner should really walk their property to make certain their area is still secure,” he said.
The most frequent type of call animal control receives following a hurricane is for missing pets.
“We want people to come to the shelter to view the animals themselves because you know your pet the best,” Stephen said.
You can also go onto the free online service Petfinder.com to search for a missing pet. The Pawprint magazine website will send photographs of a missing pet to their email subscribers.
“There’s also the beauty of social media and our local newspaper, the Wilmington StarNews,” he said.
Be sure to have a leash and identification tag on your pet.
“Aside from it being a local ordinance, its a law and its a citable offense,” he said.
If your pet isn’t microchipped, identification tags are essential. If you have a New Hanover County rabies tag, animal control staff can also key that number into their database and find information about a pet owner.
However, if a collar becomes broken, your pet’s identification or rabies tag can be lost with no way of identifying the owner.
Ensuring an adequate supply of food, proper accommodations and identification can increase your pet’s chances of surviving a hurricane or any other type of bad storm.