The street behind my house a few days after Hurricane Harvey
It’s hurricane season in our area again. If you were in Houston for Harvey, you may be like me and still be experiencing some stress over the chance of another storm like that. Harvey changed my thoughts on what I will do when future threats occur in our area. I have a new plan which is basically to get the hell out of Dodge! I don’t want to live through another one of those, but they are a fact of life if you live on the Texas coast. So, I have come up with a list of steps you can take to prepare yourself and your pets, in the event of a hurricane threat this season.
- Make a plan – decide in advance if and at what point you will evacuate and where you will go and then stick to your plan. It is difficult to make decisions in a hurry, so take some time now to map out your plan. Leave yourself plenty of time to evacuate, if that is your plan. Traffic can get heavy as people try to leave town. Your pet may not be able to tolerate long periods stuck in a car in traffic.
- When making an evacuation kit, remember to include items that your pet will need – have plenty of food, water, litter and litter box and any medication your pet may need ready to go. If you take canned food, make sure to have a can opener in your kit. Take more than you think you will need. Hurricanes usually come and go quickly, but the damage can shut the city down for a week or more. Take your pet’s bowls, bed and favorite toys. They will pick up on your stress; it helps them to have familiar items with them.
- Microchip your pet – I went to a temporary shelter to take pictures of animals that had been picked up in the aftermath of Harvey. There were just so many! The first thing rescuers are going to do is check for a microchip. It is the fastest way to get your animal back home if disaster strikes and you are separated. Tags are great (and if your phone number is on them, you may get a call to come get your baby), but collars slip off or tags get snagged on things and left behind. A microchip will always be with your pet. Microchip them and make sure the registration stays up to date.
- Evacuate when told to – If you choose to ride out the storm at home, you must leave when authorities tell you to. My condo is right on the edge of the flooding that occurred because of the Addicks Dam release after Harvey. I watched people being rescued in boats out of their homes after refusing to leave. Imagine having to do that with your pet! My dogs would be small terrors at that point and scared out of their furry little minds. You don’t want to get separated from your animal, so be sensible about seeking shelter early.
- Know which shelters accept pets – Do your research! Not all shelters are set up to accept pets. You want your evacuation to go as smoothly as possible. What are you going to do if you show up to a shelter and they tell you your animal is not allowed? Also, make sure your animal is crated. Most shelters will have that requirement and it is safer for you and your animal.
- Stay calm – you know your pet is sensitive to your emotions. They can tell when you are upset and afraid. They need you to be calm and reassure them. They have no way of understanding what is happening, so be gentle with them.
I’m hoping, along with everyone who experienced Harvey, that we never have another hurricane here in Houston, but if that is not the case, I hope that these steps will help you be prepared to do everything possible to stay safe and keep your pets safe at the same time.