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Evacuation with Pets

The United States and others areas of the world have been faced with disasters everywhere. Massive wild fires are decimating Montana, Washington, Oregon, and California; the Southwest is recovering from deadly flooding due to Hurricane Harvey, and hurricane Irma is fast approaching Florida and the east coast with Jose and Katta are following on its heels. For that reason, we want to address a few questions we’ve gotten about evacuating with pets.

There have been far too many cases of animals being turned away from shelter during these disasters. This leaves the owners to abandon or board their pets to enter shelter, or venture back into the storm with their pets. 

First, let me say: Take your pets with you when you go. Make sure they’re microchipped, carry your vaccination records in a waterproof, flotable container; and make sure they are wearing a collar or harness. You will also want to make sure you have a muzzle available to help you gain entry to shelters. We compiled a list to help you find (and gain) access to transportation, hotels and shelters during any disaster. While we're focusing this article on Irma, we'll add resources for fires and other disasters this week. 

"Take your pets with you when you go. Make sure they’re microchipped, carry your vaccination records in a waterproof, flotable container; and make sure they are wearing a collar or harness. You will also want to make sure you have a muzzle available to help you gain entry to shelters."

What Are My Options?

The PETS Act of 2006 was passed to help evacuating owners and pets together. But this doesn't do a lot for your rights. For instance, shelters and hotels can still deny your pets entry. IN fact, all it really did was give the state some extra funds to try and accommodate some pets. This means, they may choose to build extra pet-friendly shelters. They might be able to allow pets on buses, planes and more. There are a few things they can do if they choose, and the feds might help.  (If you get bored durign the storm and you’re looking for some reading, download the policy at this link: https://www.fema.gov/pdf/government/grant/pa/policy.pdf) - the interesting hotel part starts at page 109. 

Let me be very clear: The state has the option to enact pet-friendly transportation and housing if they choose.  if your pets are not up-to-date on vaccinations, are not microchipped, are not muzzled (or at least contained), are a specific breed of dog they don’t like, are considered a threat (even if they are just as scared as you are), if any of those things occur, you can be denied entry. 

 
Florida Resources for Hurricanes
  • Shelters for People  When arriving at a potential shelter, boarding your pet may be required. Place proof of recent vaccinations, photos of your pet and proof of ownership in a water-protected container and have ID and vaccination tags on your pets’ collar.
  • The GA, SC, TN, FL & NC ANIMAL RESCUE DISASTER HELP This Facebook group is devoted to helping people with pets during disasters, as well as locating displaced animals and livestock. 
  • FEMA Evac Hotels: If you are eligible for Transitional Sheltering Assistance, FEMA will pay for the cost to stay in certain hotels or motels for a limited period of time. Costs covered are for the cost of the room and taxes, and any other expenses are not included. Search the list below of participating locations to see if they have availability in the area you have selected. Since room availability changes quickly, please call the hotel prior to travelling to be sure the hotel can accommodate your need.
  • Prepare a plan:  Make sure you're ready! This pdf document will help. 
  • Find a pet-friendly Hotel: One of our favorite resources is GoPetFriendly - they have the largest updated database of pet-friendly hotels. Some hotels are offering Hurricane rates, but there's a waiting list or others are booked. However, rates and reservations are currently changing by the hour as tourists cancel plans and conventions and shows cancel at the Orange County Convention Center. Let’s face it - in the end, it will be a “disaster” type system and the first ones there will likely get the rooms.  Most hotels are also waiving the pet policy and pet fee, but don’t rely on this to happen everywhere and plan on those without pets to be served first (sadly, it's still the way of the world).  

 

Temporary Suspension of Rules Moving Livestock in Florida

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam announced the suspension of rules on moving livestock and pets within the state of Florida.

“By suspending the intrastate movement requirements for the transportation of animals, we can ensure that Floridians and visitors can quickly and safely move their pets and livestock out of harm’s way,” Putnam said in a prepared statement. Also, Putnam said Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi have waived requirements related to moving livestock and pets from Florida. 

Learn how to evacuate livestock and poultry in our article, Disaster preparedness with livestock and pets

When possible, we use affiliate links in our posts. This helps allow us to continue bringing helpful articles to you. Thank you for using them to help keep this website alive.

Sheltering In Place

Let’s face it - if you haven’t gotten out by now, you will most likely be riding this awful storm out in your home. Here are the ultimate most important things you need right now (if you don’t have them, go get them. Now.). 

3 Day Emergency Ssupply List for Pets and People

In case you prefer more details, we have this to offer:

Drinking water for you and each pet: This is mandatory. Neither you nor your pets should drink from contaminated sources of water. Plan on 1 gallon per day per person, 1 quart per day per pet. Depending on your climate and emergency situation, you may need more or less than that amount. Obviously, large dogs and livestock will require more water per day Read Disaster preparedness with pets for those guidelines. 

Drinking Water Quantity
The rule of thumb is to store at least one gallon per person per day and 1 quart per pet for at least 3 days. That's 2 quarts for drinking and 2 quarts for food preparation and sanitation.

A family of two humans and two large dogs should store a minimum of 12 gallons of water.

A little more detail:  

Food: Plan at least 3-days supply of canned or dehydrated food for each person and pet. This is the bare minimum you should pack. Depending on the scenario, you may need to plan for more food and water. We like to make our own, but there are plenty of pre-packaged kits that you can leave in its large bucket (which excellent for scenarios like this). 

Matches: Buy them in a small kit or waterproof by dipping tip into wax and allowing to harden. Store them in a waterproof container. We like that we have flint in the kits. 

Knife: A knife is one of the things I"m most grateful for when in any scenario. Choose from Swiss Army knives to large bowie knives. We like smaller, lightweight, multi-purpose tools - but you need to choose according to your environment. 

Rx: Be sure to have at least a 3-day supply of prescription medications for you and your pets. If you are being treated for a chronic condition, ask your doctor for a special emergency supply. Don't forget to pack your prescription glasses.

Important documents:  You should have a waterproof, flotable, portable container to carry important documents.

  • For people, this includes: insurance policies, personal identification, bank account records, immunization records, copies of prescriptions, and emergency contact numbers.
  • For pets, this includes: Vaccination records (critical for getting into boarding facilities or shelters), copies of prescriptions, microchip information, and emergency contact information.  

Recent photographs: Identification of your pets can be streamlined if you have recent photos of you and your pet together, as well as photos that show identifiying marks on pets and family. 

Money: Cash, traveler’s checks, credit cards and change (for phones, etc).

Emergency reference material: There are many first aid manuals that are portable and waterproof. This is one of our favorites for pets. 

Emergency blankets: These thermal blankets are lightweight, easy to carry, and can be used in climates that are hot or cold. They just might save your life. 

Rain Poncho: If you are in a hurricane or rainy climate, you will be mighty grateful for this lightweight poncho. 

Sturdy shoes: Beore you flee, make sure you are wearing durable boots or shoes. Also toss in that extra pair of socks - you'd be amazed how great warm, dry feet feel after wading through water for hours. 

Life jacket or PFD: Pack one for you and each of your pets. Exhaustion can kick in quickly while swimming and you never know if you'll be struck by debris and swept into water. Learn about some lifesaving devices at Dogs that can't Swim and Some that just aren't very good at it.

Household chlorine bleach:  Bleach can be used as a disinefectant or emergency water purifier. To use as disinfectant (9:1), dilute nine (9) parts water to one (1) part bleach. Use to treat water by adding sixteen (16) drops of liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.

Hand crank radio: This will help you with emergency frequencies and can be recharged by rotating handle. Choose one with a flashlight - it will save you lots of frustration and will last forever. We like these for any environment

Personal Hygiene: This includes items like feminine supplies and other personal hygiene items

Mess kits: This should include (at least) a bowl, spoon (or spork), and an cup. Here's one we keep in our go-bag (learn more at Preparing Your Pets for Disasters: The Bug-Out Bag)

First aid kit: Keep it small and easy to carry. Here's one we like.  

 

[Learn more about safely camping with pets.]

For Pets

Be sure you have (at minimum), a 3-day minimum supply of the following:

  • Water: Plan on at least one quart per pet, per day. You can also calcuolate it by 1 oz * per pound * per day, or 1/1/1.  A healthy dog should drink between ½ and 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight each day. Check out How Much Water Does Your Pet Need? for further explanation.
  • Food: Dehydrated or canned is best. We prefer to carry sample packs from The Honest Kitchen since they're prepackaged individually and are lightweight. Also, that's what we feed our pets anyway, so we can keep digestive upset to a minimum.   
  • Portable Bowls: Choose one that folds flat and has an attached caribiner for easy carrying. 
  • Carrier: For cats, you should have carriers on hand at all times nad they should be familiar with them. Learn how to train your cat to love being in a carrier! 
  • Collar: This is required during a disaster. Please keep a collar on your pet at all times. 
  • Leash: We like this long leash for hands-free walking. If you have a big dog, consider having them carry their own supplies. Learn more at Why Your Dog May Need A Job - it can help minimize stress and take a load off of you. 
  • Harness: Ultimately, the best situation for a disaster environment if you're in a shelter or planning to find public shelter. 
  • Muzzle: You really need one of these if you're planning on evacuating (or even if you're not). We are not fans of muzzles, but it makes others feel better about letting your pets in a shelter environment. Choose one like this, that allows plenty of breathing room and allows the dog to drink, eat and open their mouth normally. Our preference is for the Baskerville Basket Muzzle
  • Important documents: This includes your pets' Microchip numbers, vaccination records, and recent photos of you with your pets at minimum. 

We hope everyone is fine during this scary storm, and we really help the fires up north cooperate and decrease. If only there were a way to move the rain from the hurricane to the fires in the north. Please check in with us and let us know you're okay on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram

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stacymantle
Author: stacymantle
About the Author

Stacy Mantle is a freelance writer who currently resides in the southwestern deserts of Arizona with a few dogs, several cats, and a very understanding husband. She is a regular contributor to Pet Age Magazine, Catster, Animal Behavior College, and of course, PetsWeekly. Many of her stories and articles have been translated into several languages, and now reach an international audience. She is also the author of a bestselling urban fantasy/thriller, Shepherd's Moon; a humor book entitled, Conquering the Food Chain: Living Amongst Animals (Without Becoming One), and a line of Educational Activity Books for children.


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