dog and cat staring at camera, being held by owners on each side of image

Hurricane season here in the Galveston Bay Area is June through November, with early fall being a highly active time. When Hurricane Katrina slammed into Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, in 2005, experts believe that over 100,000 pets were stranded and approximately 110,000 died. Thankfully, we have learned a few valuable lessons since then about helping dogs, cats, and other pets survive hurricanes. There’s exponentially more support in place for pets in case of an emergency, as experts have created pet emergency plans. Our staff at Bayside Animal Hospital would like to pass on some helpful advice for being proactive about pet safety during a hurricane evacuation.

Create a Three-day Emergency Bag for Your Pet

pet emergency pack in case of hurricane

Always have a three-day emergency bag ready to go for yourself and a pet emergency kit, especially during hurricane season. Include at least three days of pet food, a copy of your pet’s rabies certificate and vaccinations, a copy of any current pet prescriptions, a week’s worth of pet medications, and basic pet first aid supplies. You can find pet emergency kits that dogs can carry across their backs for easy use, especially if you condition your dog to wear the pack first with a little training.

Get Your Pet Used to Travel

dog laying on blanket in car for travel

Take your pet on short rides in the car well before you might need to evacuate with pets. That way, they will be used to traveling in your vehicle in case you need to leave home. A pet must know where their resting position is in your car and willingly get in on your voice command. Start small and gradually work your way up so that the dog or cat stays comfortable when traveling for several hours.

For cats and small dogs, this same training work can be done to get them used to a pet carrier. Your pet doesn’t have to love a pet carrier, but they should enter without putting up a fight, as a fearful pet is the last thing you want in an emergency situation. Fearful pets will run and hide–conditioning pets for emergencies is a necessary tool for emergency evacuations. 

Crate Train Your Pet

cat in cat travel backpack with window

To ensure hurricane pet safety during evacuations, crate-train your pet so the crate is familiar and safe. This will be especially helpful if you have to evacuate to a shelter or share a space with others, as pets will need to be kept in travel crates. In case of an evacuation, bring the pet’s crate with you, as well as any bedding. This will be familiar and help your pet relax.

If your pet isn’t already used to the crate, you can train your pet to use it quite easily. Set one up in your home and leave the door open so your fur baby can investigate the crate on its own. Place a cozy bed or blankets inside. You can also place treats inside to coax them to examine the inside of the crate if they’re hesitant. Then, practice closing the door and stepping away briefly. Gradually increase the amount of time they’re closed in the crate each time they go inside. Eventually, your pet will learn to be comfortable in the crate for several hours. Never be forceful with them, and allow them to explore in their own time.  

Know Your Route

dog napping on blanket in car

Figure out where you can stay with your pet during an evacuation. Plan ahead if a storm is coming and don’t wait until government officials issue a mandatory evacuation to leave. Spaces that take pets are often limited, so you’ll want to be ahead of the crowd. Locate pet-friendly hotels along your route way if you think you may end up in one. Under the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act passed by Congress in 2006, most shelters must take pets in case of an emergency.  Remember that ones near you are in the path of the storm, too, and will likely be evacuating.

Learn where shelters are outside of the storm range if you can’t take pets all the way to your evacuation destination, and double-check their policies. You should also make a list of kennels, pet daycares, and veterinarians along the route you are most likely to follow. Hurricane evacuation with pets should never be a last-minute plan.

Plan for Unusual Pet Emergency Evacuations

Unfortunately, you may not be able to get to your home during a mandatory evacuation, especially if it’s last minute. It’s a great idea to create an emergency pet plan with a neighbor who will likely be home, a local doggie daycare, a pet sitter, or a veterinarian who will be able to bring your dog to you if you cannot get home during an evacuation. You are responsible for hurricane pet safety for any of your four-legged friends.

Talk with the staff at Bayside Animal Hospital about pet safety during hurricane evacuations. We will be glad to answer any pet emergency evacuation questions you may have. We’re here when you need us.