Alex, Bonnie and Colin have already come and gone and our next guests, Daniel, Earl and Fiona, could be much messier. Unwanted guest means storm season – and so far our early Hurricane visitors have served as just wet reminders of the potential of things to come. Are you ready? Are the pets ready? You are ultimately responsible for the safety of your pets in a tropical weather situation. So listen-up.
First, gather and keep your pets indoors as the storm approaches. That way you don’t look all homeless, aimlessly wandering the neighborhood looking for them as the time to leave approaches.
Next, run in place in the living room in low panic mode (you’re entitled to about five minutes of this). As you scream and pull at your hair ask yourself, where I run with my cats and dogs. You should already have this list somewhere. Your best bets are friends and family living out of the line of fire. Of course “pet friendly” hotels are an option too. The web site www.clemson.edu/ep has the list of statewide pet friendlies. If you are forced to use boarding facilities, keep in mind that many close and empty out in preparation for the aftermath of a storm. Know who they are and what their vaccine requirements are before showing up at crunch time. Keep vaccine records and microchip numbers (photos – not a bad idea either) in your water proof pet kit, any of theses could become helpful during the chaos of an evacuation.
Pet carriers, leashes and collars give you the upper hand during this stressful period which can often manifest as atypical behavior in our pets. While you’re collecting things for the emergency, and this is vital, be sure that you have special diets and medications well stocked if your loved ones require either. If you’re forced to board; lists of feeding schedule, medical conditions and behavioral problems for those with special needs will be helpful to the kennel staff.
Plan ahead by chatting with us at the Vet office, we may offer motion sickness pills or light sedatives if you have a poor traveler. Pack plenty of food, fresh water, kitty litter, non-spill bowls and dishes. You may not be returning home anytime soon if the big one hits (Hurricane Hugo).
You may get stuck in traffic (Hurricane Floyd). So for the actual drive out of town, think: old newspapers, paper towels, plastic bags, cleansers and disinfectants. Forgetting these necessities could become the equivalent of locking yourself in a Taste of Charleston, Port-o-let for a few hours. Bad news, if you follow the guy who just licked a plate clean of bacon wrapped, crab stuffed shrimp.
Easily transportable beds and toys may be a comfort to the animal. If you can crate your pet for the drive – do it. This ensures no escapes while you and the family get in and out of the vehicle along the route. Chasing a freaked out cat through a Tasty Freeze parking lot in Orangeburg could get bloody, and it won’t be the cat’s blood.
If the animal must be left home during the storm let a friend know and leave all pertinent information with them (like, he may bite when you walk into the house). Additionally, do not leave pets outside, keep in an area away from possible rising waters, fill the bath tubs for drinking water and be sure your contact information is clearly labeled (and water proofed) on their tags or collars.
These basics are by no means a complete list of the guidelines to follow if you own a pet and disaster looms. The previously listed web site and www.scav.org will offer more.