Pet Owners: If an emergency or bad weather forces you and your pets from your home, Will you know what to do and what to bring?
If you are forced to evacuate your home because of a hurricane or other emergency, don’t forget to make preparations for your pets. Pets, just like any other member of your family, have their own special needs. Here are some tips from the Louisiana State Animal Response Team (LSART – www.lsart.org) and LSU School of Veterinary Medicine to help you prepare for an evacuation.
WHAT TO DO:
• Don’t leave your pet at home! While most evacuations last only a few days, there are times that you may not be able to return quickly. The safest place for your pet is with you.
• If you are going to a hotel, call ahead and make sure, in advance, that animals are welcome. Many hotels relax their policies during times of crisis, but don’t assume that this will be the case. For on-line information about pet-friendly hotels, check out www.bringyourpet.com, www.petswelcome.com, or www.pets-allowed-hotels.com.
• If you are staying with friends or family, make sure that your pets are invited as well. If not, ask for recommendations of nearby veterinary hospitals or boarding kennels and make reservations in advance.
• Be sure that your pets are up-to-date on all vaccinations and bring proof of vaccinations with you. It is a good idea to ask your veterinarian now for a copy of your pet’s vaccination record. Keep this with your emergency kit.
• If your pet is on medication, bring at least a two week supply.
• Identification of your pet is crucial! The ideal form of identification is a microchip* or a tattoo. At minimum, your pet should have a tag with his name, your name, and your phone number on it. Pictures of your pet that capture identifying features are also a good idea.
*A microchip is a tiny permanent identification tag, placed under your pet’s skin by your veterinarian. By registering your name and address with the microchip company, your pet can be scanned and instantly identified at any animal facility.
WHAT TO BRING:
• Enough pet food for one week
• Food bowl
• Water bowl
• Bottled water
• Harness or collar
• Proof of vaccinations
• Rabies tag
• Portable kennel
• Litter box and litter for cats
• Trash bags for stool disposal
• Newspaper or towels for crate lining
• Heartworm preventative
• Flea and tick protection
• All medications
• For exotic pets, bring their entire habitat, including heat lamps and extension cords
Your pet’s kennel should be large enough for him to stand and turn around. Collapsible wire crates are best if your pets might be in a non-air conditioned environment for an extended period. A battery-operated fan that can attach to the cage can be a much appreciated addition. Molded plastic airline-approved crates make for easier transport and are best for animals that don’t travel well in the car.
People with special needs or people without transportation who have pets contact their parish emergency managers (e.g. the parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness) well ahead of time so that they can be registered for requiring special assistance in a disaster situation. You may need to contact the parish emergency manager via the parish sheriff’s office. For a list of parish emergency preparedness offices and contacts, go to the http://www.gohsep.la.gov/regions.aspx.
If your pet requires medical care after-hours, you can bring your pet to the LSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital on Skip Bertman Drive; the hospital is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and remains open even during disasters such as hurricanes. The number for the Small Animal Clinic is 225-578-9600, and the number for the Large Animal Clinic is 225-578-9500.
Tips for Horse Owners to Prepare for Disasters
With the hurricane season upon us, it is important for horse owners to ready themselves in advance for evacuation and other recommended tasks related to hurricane preparedness. Here are some tips from the Louisiana State Animal Response Team (LSART – www.lsart.org) and the Equine Health Studies Program at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine for effectively preparing horse owners in areas prone to hurricane damage:
- Have a personal plan for your family including your animals and review and update the plan yearly (Saving the Whole Family is a useful guide from the American Veterinary Medical Association AVMA avma.org)
- Be sure your horse is current regarding vaccinations for tetanus and the encephalitis viruses (Rabies, Eastern, Western, and West Nile).
- Network a "plan" with the horse or farm animal-owning neighbors in your parish (get to know your neighbors, plan a meeting, talk through different scenarios, and identify the local resources for dealing with disaster situations) and be prepared to help one another.
- Know your parish emergency managers!!! They are in charge during a disaster: Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness/Management (e.g., Sheriff, Animal Control)
- Be sure that your horse has two forms of identification: (1) Permanent identification such as a microchip, tattoo or brand, and (2) Luggage-type tag secured to the tail and halter (be sure to use a leather halter for break-away purposes). Fetlock tags are useful and can be acquired on-line or from a local farm supply store or you can use a paint stick or non-toxic spray paint. Be sure to place your name, address, and phone number (phone number of someone out of state is best in the event of phone outages) legibly on the tags.
- Be sure to store the record for the microchip number (i.e., E.I.A. or Coggins form) in an accessible location (it is recommended to keep a second copy of this information with a family member or friend in a distant location but where it will be easily accessible).
- If you plan to evacuate (and you should ALWAYS do this if possible) in the event of a storm, have a destination and route(s) mapped out well in advance. It is important to evacuate your horses a sufficient distance from the coast and a good general guideline is north of Interstate 10, preferably north of Alexandria. January to May would be good months to prepare this plan. Arrange to leave a minimum of 72 hours before the arrival of the storm. The worst thing that can happen is to be stuck in traffic with a trailer full of horses and a hurricane approaching. Provide your neighbors with your evacuation contact information.
- Prepare a waterproof emergency animal care kit with all the items you normally use, including medications, salves or ointments, vetwrap, bandages, tape, etc. Place the kit in a safe place where you can easily access it after a storm.
- Start early to clean up your property and remove all debris that may be tossed around by storm and hurricane force winds. Be careful of down power lines that can be "live" and represent a danger to people and animals.
If you plan to weather the storm at home (this is not usually recommended), there are some general guidelines to follow:
- The choice of keeping your horse in a barn or an open field is up to you. Use common sense, taking into consideration barn structure, trees, power lines, condition of surrounding properties and the likelihood of the property and structure to flood. Farms subject to storm surge or flash flooding should turn their horses out so horses are not trapped and thus drown.
- Remove all items from the barn aisle and walls, and store them in a safe place.
- Have at least a two to three week supply of hay (wrapped in plastic or waterproof tarp) and feed (stored in plastic water-tight containers, securing the container seams with duct tape).
- Place these supplies in the highest (out of reach of flood waters) and driest area possible.
- Fill clean plastic garbage cans with water, secure the tops, and place them in the barn for use after the storm.
- Have an emergency barn kit containing a chain saw and fuel, hammer(s), saw, nails, screws and fencing materials. Place this kit in a secure area before the storm hits so that it is easily accessible after the storm.
- Be sure to have an ample supply of flashlights and batteries and other non-perishable items.
- Listen to local radio stations in your area. If Internet access is available, access state-run websites that contain accurate status information (i.e., State Police, State University, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry) and take all cautions/warning serious and act accordingly.
- Visit the Louisiana State Animal Response Team website at www.lsart.org for more detailed information regarding horse hurricane preparations and other emergency and health-related information.
If your animal requires medical care after-hours, you can bring your pet to the LSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital on Skip Bertman Drive; the hospital is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and remains open even during disasters such as hurricanes. The number for the Large Animal Clinic is 225-578-9500, and the number for the Small Animal Clinic is 225-578-9600.