Hurricane Ian: What to do about your pets?

Photo courtesy: Orange County Animal Services

As Floridians prepare for Hurricane Ian, there is still a level of uncertainty as to how bad the future hurricane will be once it hits land in Florida. If conditions get bad enough, some may have to evacuate. Those with pets will want to prepare if they find themselves in that situation. 

Orange County Animal Services advises pet owners to make a "pet disaster kit" with the following items:

  • Approximately two weeks worth of pet food
  • Pet health records
  • Current picture of pet with name, address and phone numbers
  • Collar and leash for dogs, and an adjustable breakaway collar for cats
  • Any special pet information
  • Portable water/food bowls
  • Special medication your pet may need
  • Items of comfort

Those with pets should also know where they'll be able to take their pets. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), temporary public shelters may not allow animals inside. If this is the case, you’ll need to find alternatives. Have a list of pet-friendly motels or hotels, or plan to go to the house of a friend or relative who will let you bring your pets.

It's also a good idea to get your pet used to a crate or carrier because your pet may have less anxiety during travel. The FDA suggests getting your pet microchipped. A microchip is a small implant that’s injected under the skin and provides pets with a permanent identification that can’t fall off, be removed, or become impossible to read.

If your pets are taken to a veterinary clinic or animal shelter, they will be scanned to obtain their unique microchip number. The veterinary clinic or animal shelter will then call the pet recovery service and report the microchip number, and you will be contacted using the information on file.

If you are trapped and away from home in the middle of a hurricane, arrange for a neighbor or nearby friend to take care of them. 

Be sure to never leave your pets behind during a hurricane or any major disaster.