Hurricane Preparedness for Pets

County Evacuation Shelters That Allow Pets

Pre-registration at pet friendly county shelters is required. Do not wait until a storm is coming! Register now.

Broward County Hurricane Pet Shelter Pre-registration

Palm Beach County Hurricane Pet Shelter Pre-registration 

Dogs rescued after Hurricane Katrina in a FEMA holding area.

by Dr. Lance Weidenbaum and Dr. Michael Shaff

Hurricane season has just started, and it's time to make your preparations for the year. Your pet needs to be included in those preparations. 

We all remember the images after Hurricane Katrina of dogs standing on the roofs of flooded houses and cats swimming after rescue boats crying for help. The Congressional Friends of Animal Caucus estimated that 250,000 companion animals and 350,000 livestock were lost or killed during Katrina, in part because no evacuation plan for animals was in place. FEMA now requires municipalities to account for pets, household animals and service animals in their evacuations plans. 

As Floridians, we all know from experience that unexpected things can happen during a hurricane, so you should not rely only on the authorities to provide for you and your pet in the event of a severe storm.  

Hare are some important steps you can take to keep your pet safe, and maximize the changes of getting your pet back if you are separated:

  1. Have an evacuation plan for your family and pets. Do not leave your pets behind. 
    • Fill your gas tank before the storm in case you are ordered to leave.
    • Arrange to stay with relatives or friends who live inland.
    • Pre-register at a pet-friendly shelter (see box above left).
    • Reserve a hotel room further inland. 
    • Dog crates and cat carriers assembled and ready to go at a moment's notice. 
  2. Copy your pet's documents and store them in a waterproof Ziplock bag.
    • Vaccination record and county license info. Travel papers if leaving Florida.
    • Microchip number and website login info. 
    • Recent clear photos of your pet, and a detailed description, in the event you are separated. 
  3. Pet supplies for a 1 - 2 week period.
    • Hurricane officials say to have 3 days of food and water on hand. If you were here during Hurricane Wilma, you know that's not enough. You should have a minimum of one week's food and water, one gallon per person per day stored up for everyone in your family and your pets. 
    • Don't forget the cat litter and doggy pads, paper towels, baby or pet wipes, hand sanitizer, and other sanitation and cleaning items. 
    • Pick up extra  medications or supplies from your veterinarian ahead of time, and store in a waterproof box. 
    • Update your pet's tags if they are worn out. 
    • Have collars, harnesses and leashes for each pet. An extra set can be handy. 
    • First aid kit.
    • Dishes, toys, and other necessary items.
  4. Before, during and after the storm:
    • Get an "Animals Inside" sticker from the Fire Department for your front door.
    • Bring animals indoors before the weather deteriorates. 
    • Never leave a pet outdoors or chained in the yard. 
    • Some animals may feel safer in their crate or carrier during the storm. 
    • Some dogs are less stressed by the noise in a ThunderShirt
    • Have a pillowcase or Evacksack ready in the event you have to scoop up kitty in a hurry. 
    • After the storm:
      • Clear your yard of debris, downed lines, and wildlife before allowing pets outdoors. Wear boots and gloves.
      • Snakes, opossums, birds and other critters may use your garage, shed or patio as a storm shelter. Check these areas before allowing pets outside. Call Wildlife Rescue at 954-524-4302 or 866-SOS-WILD if you find injured wildlife in your yard.
      • Do not let pets walk in or drink from standing water, which may contain sewage, dead animals, worms/parasites, or sharp debris. 
      • Maintain control of your dog at all times.Your dog may feel more protective of you and your property after a disturbing storm. Other people's pets may be loose and frightened after a storm. Use caution approaching loose animals.

If you have any questions about hurricane preparedness, picking up extra medications before a storm, or if you need travel papers or vaccination certificates, please give us a call. 

Photo credit: smiteme / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Phone: 954-421-2244   Serving Deerfield Beach, Coconut Creek, and Boca Raton from our offices at Hillsboro Blvd and  Powerline Road in the Dunkin' Donuts plaza.    © Deer Run Animal Hospital 2017