It's Hurricane Season for Pets, Too. Plan Ahead.

It might not sound very dangerous, but complacency is one of the biggest concerns this hurricane season. Emergency managers and hurricane forecasters are afraid that after nine seasons without a major hurricane striking the U.S., the public will become complacent and fail to prepare. Yet, preparation is everything since it only takes one storm to cause total chaos. It is imperative that there be a disaster plan in place to care for those family members who give us unconditional love – our pets. In fact, the month of June is designated as National Pet Preparedness Month.

Pet owners are urged by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) to develop an emergency plan in advance to keep their families and pets safe. Having a plan ahead of time can save you valuable minutes and energy if you are hit with a natural disaster. A basic rule of thumb is that if it’s not safe for you, then it’s not safe for your pets. If officials order an evacuation, you should take your pets with you. Animals left to fend for themselves may become trapped or escape and can easily be injured, lost or killed due to exposure, starvation, predators, contaminated food or water, or accidents.

In a moment of panic, you may just assume you can take your pets with you wherever you go. However, many evacuation shelters do not accept pets. While some hotels may waive their no-pet policy in the event of an emergency, you should have a back-up plan. Make a list of pet-friendly hotels, out-of-town family members or friends, boarding facilities, veterinary offices and animal shelters that might be able to take your pet in during an emergency.

Having an emergency kit packed and ready to go in an easily accessible location at all times will help you keep calm and evacuate quickly. Recommended items for the kit include:

  • 3 to 7 days worth of canned (pop-top) or dry food (be sure to rotate every two months).
  • At least 7 days worth of bottled water for each person and pet (store in a cool, dry place and replace every two months).
  • Medication (rotate regularly).
  • Current identification (name, cell phone, address) fastened to your pet’s collar. Visit for tags with GPS and scanning capabilities.
  • Blanket (for warmth or for scooping up a fearful pet).
  • Bowls.
  • Copy of your pet’s immunization/vet records, along with your veterinarian’s phone number (keep both updated) in a waterproof container.
  • Disposable litter trays and litter if you have cats or rabbits.
  • Extra leash, extra collar and extra harness.
  • First aid kit with bandages and antiseptics (available for all different species here).
  • Flotation vest (can help a pet remain safe, afloat and visible during a hurricane or flood).
  • List of places to take refuge with your pet.
  • Paper towels.
  • Pet carrier.
  • Phone number and directions to a 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital.
  • Plastic bags (to serve double duty as garbage and poop bags).
  • Recent photos of your pets (in case you are separated and need to make "Lost" posters).
  • Toys and chews.

You should also have an emergency rescue sticker placed on the front door of your home in the event that you’re separated from your pet. Make sure it is visible to rescue workers, and that it includes the types of pets in your household, the number of pets in your household, the name of your veterinarian and your veterinarian's phone number.If you must evacuate with your pets, and if time allows, write "EVACUATED" across the stickers. The ASPCA offers free emergency stickers here.

If you must evacuate your home in a crisis, plan for the worst-case scenario. If you think you may be gone for only a day, assume that you may not be allowed to return for several weeks. We all hope that we’ll never have to deal with a natural disaster, but here in South Florida, it’s just a matter of time. Don’t be caught off guard. Creating an evacuation plan and a "go bag" doesn't take much effort and you (and your pets!) will be thankful for your advance preparation when the inevitable emergency comes.

If you are trying to put your life back together after a hurricane or have more questions about this topic, trust your case to the attorneys at Stabinski Law For 45 years, we have helped people understand their rights under the law. Contact us by calling (305) 643-3100 or by filling out a free case evaluation form.

DISCLAIMER: Any information about past verdicts and settlements is based on the unique facts of each case. Every case is different, and future cases may not achieve the same or similar results. These amounts reflect the gross recovery (before attorneys’ fees and expenses are deducted).

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