As Baltimore residents brace for Hurricane Irene and prepare their families and homes for the impending storm, local pet experts remind residents to ready their pets for the storm as well.
Inga Fricke, Director of Sheltering and Pet Care Issues at the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) said it’s important that families remember to consider their pet’s safety as well as their own and not leave helpless animals to fend for themselves in the event of a disaster.
“People should definitely never leave their pets behind,” Fricke said. “If you go, they should go! Not every emergency shelter will allow pets, though, so it’s important to check with your locality beforehand to see what, if any, arrangements will be available should the worst case scenario happen. If you’re uncertain as to whether you will be able to take your pets into your nearest shelter with you, or if the shelter will not allow you to physically stay together with your pets, the best course of action is to simply leave the area well before the storm hits and find a hotel room out of the danger zone that accepts pets or arrange to stay with a friend or family member for a few days.”
In 2000, the HSUS and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) signed a historic partnership agreement to encourage and assist people who want to safeguard their pets in a natural disaster. However, this is not a guarantee that all emergency shelters will accept pets and HSUS urges pet owners to never assume you can take pets to an emergency shelter with you. The need for owners to keep their pets with them during a natural disaster became evident in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit and hundreds of thousands of animals died or were lost.
Cheryl Bernard-Smith, Director of Operations at the Maryland SPCA in Baltimore said their organization is stressing to pet owners the importance of having your pet properly tagged or micro-chipped prior to the storm so they can be easily identified in the event you are separated.
Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Shelter (BARCS) Office Manager Darlene Harris said that the biggest message they want to communicate to Baltimore residents is “don’t leave your pets behind.”
“The best thing we can say to pet owners is take your pets with you if you’re forced to evacuate,” Harris said. “Just make sure you bring the necessary items they will need.”
In the event of an evacuation or extensive power and water outages, FEMA recommends pet owners are prepared with the following supplies: pet food; bottled water; medications; veterinary records; cat litter/pan; can opener; food dishes; first aid kit.
There are many informative websites available to assist pet owners in the event of a natural disaster:
- FEMA Information for Pet Owners: www.fema.gov/plan/prepare/animals.shtm
- Humane Society of the United States: www.humanesociety.org/news/news/2011/03/disaster_planning_2011.html
- Ready America: www.ready.gov/america/beinformed/earthquakes.html
- Red Cross Hurricane Safety Checklist: www.redcross.org/www-files/Documents/pdf/Preparedness/checklists/Hurricane.pdf
- Petfinder Disaster Prepardness and Pets: www.petfinder.com/pet-care/disaster-preparedness-pets.html
To stay up-to-date with news and tips about the hurricane’s affect on pets, like Baltimore Pet Examiner on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BaltimorePetRescueExaminer or Twitter at @BaltPetRescue.