Lessons Learned from Hurricane Katrina – Pet Safety

On Thursday, August 21, Danny became the first hurricane of the 2015 Atlantic season. Ten years ago, when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, over 600,000 animals were stranded or killed, in part because rescue workers refused to transport them and, in some cases, forcibly removed them from their owners. In 2006, a federal law called the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act was passed to prevent such tragedies in the future. The PETS Act authorizes FEMA to provide rescue, care, shelter, and essential needs to pets and service animals, as well as their owners, and requires state and local emergency plans to address their needs.

Hurricane Pet Safety

Here are some tips for planning for your pet’s safety during a hurricane:

  • Put together an emergency kit for each pet. It should include three days’ worth of food and water, medications, medical records, pet-safe first aid supplies, food and water dishes, and a blanket or other comfort item, as well as a leash and/or sturdy crate.
  • Know where you will go if you must evacuate. Find out which shelters accept pets and what their requirements are.
  • Have your pet vaccinated ahead of time and keep the record in your emergency kit. Shelters and boarding facilities typically require proof of up-to-date vaccinations, especially for rabies.
  • If you cannot keep your pet with you wherever you plan to go, board your pet away from the danger zone.
  • Make sure your pets wear ID tags if possible, even if they are microchipped, so that anyone who sees them knows they have a family and can easily find your contact information without having to take your pet in to get scanned for a chip. For cats, breakaway collars are a must for safety and dogs can lose their collars too, so micro-chipping is the most reliable way to recover pets after a disaster.
  • Place a rescue alert sticker on the outside of your home that lets rescue workers know there are pets inside.
  • Always bring your pets inside well ahead of the storm. Keep them in a crate or on a leash during the storm so you are ready to go without notice if necessary.
  • Do not tranquilize your pets. You never know what will happen in a hurricane. In a worst-case scenario they have to be able to fend for themselves.
  • Try to stay calm and keep your pets calm. Products such as Rescue Remedy can help both of you. Look for the formulations that are marked as being safe for pets.
  • Never leave your pets behind in a hurricane. If you will be unable to care for them yourself, make arrangements with someone who can. If you don’t know anyone who is willing and able, talk to your local rescue organizations ahead of time for advice on what you can do to keep them safe.


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