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Are you and your pets ready for hurricane season?

September 1, 2010 - Amy Hanna-Eckenrode

We are entering the heart of hurricane season and according to Weather Channel statistics, we are already trending ahead of schedule. 

This year marks the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. I will never forget watching the devastation play out on the national news during the course of the hurricane and aftermath – not knowing how to help – wanting to jump in my car and drive down there without a clue how to assist.

Sixty thousand people were stranded – many because they had no place to go – many because they truly believed the storm was not going to be 'that bad' and they were going to be able to ‘wait out’ the storm – and, many, 44%, according to the LA/ASPCA because they could not fathom leaving their companion animals behind. 

People died for all the reasons above. So did pets. Of the estimated 70,000 companion animals that were left behind, only 15,000 were rescued – and only 20% of those were ever reunited back with their owners. The loss of human and animal lives is much higher depending on what statistics you read, but after one life what does it matter? One is too many.

I couldn’t even tolerate the thought of leaving my pets ‘behind’. But, if you live in a storm prone area and have pets, you have a whole new set of rules that you know you have to play by when planning your preparedness efforts.  Rule #1, pets are not permitted in evacuation shelters. If you don’t make plans to relocate your pet and the waters come rushing through your doors and windows or emergency personal are forcing you to evacuate – you are going to be forced to make one of the most heart-wrenching decisions you’ve ever faced. What are you going to do?

Having been a lifeguard, a student health aide in college, and former flight attendant, I am always working on my Plan B and C for every situation. I am prepared to evacuate any sinking car, crashed airplane, and any other emergency situation that might arise. You may want to follow me. I will help you, but I will be the first out… just sayin’….

Hurricane Earl is gearing up to tease the East Coast. Long Island is preparing for his arrival. They’ve had their share of storms and have always weathered the brunt of them but this time they have a new emergency plan of action. As a Weather Channel junkie I heard their emergency management person discuss the plan which includes more PRE-paredness actions for residents including PETS.

This information is invaluable. Take the time to know the Emergency Preparedness information for your area. Especially if you are traveling/vacationing. Don’t leave home without knowing how to care for your family and fur babies in unfamiliar territory.  Every area is different but basic rules apply.  Take responsibility for yourself and your loved ones. Here is a great starter checklist.


Pet Go-Kit

Your pet disaster preparedness kits should include:

• Your pets’ names

• Your name, address, phone and cell number

• Emergency contact - friend or family

• Your veterinarian’s name and contact information

• Medical records and medications

• Specific care instructions and behavioral problems

• First aid kit

• Current photos

• Sturdy leash with collar or harness

• Muzzles, if necessary

• Paper towels for clean-up

• Food (3 days supply) & manual can opener

• Bottled water and water purification tablets

• Bowls, toys and other comfort items

• Treats, brushes, combs

• Newspapers and plastic trash bags for handling waste

Also have on hand, ready to go:

• Secure carriers large enough for your pets to stand

comfortably, turn around and lie down

• Towels or blankets for bedding and warmth

• Cat litter and litter box

For more information, visit the Nassau County Pet Safe Coalition website and your local Emergency Preparedness website


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