How to include pets in your disaster preparedness plans

As Hurricane Iselle and Tropical Storm Julio’s paths are expected to pass over the Hawaiian Islands later this week, Both the Hawaiian Humane Society and the Humane Society of the United States reminds residents to include pets in their disaster preparedness plans.

While the path and force of Iselle is still uncertain, the storm could produce high winds and flooding. Residents in the potential areas of impact should stay up-to-date on the storm’s progress, including bringing animals inside to protect them from flooding or loose debris should the winds strengthen. Pet owners should have an emergency plan and kit that includes their animals, and always be informed about the potential for evacuation in their area should the storm strengthen.

Inga Gibson, Hawaii senior state director for The HSUS, advises: “If it’s not safe for you; it’s not safe for your pet. If you must evacuate, then please take your pets with you.”

The HSUS reminds pet owners to create a pet emergency kit that is available if people should have to shelter in place or evacuate. Be sure to put a collar with visible identification on pets, including indoor-only pets. The kit should include:

  • Five-or-more-day supply of food in airtight, waterproof container, and drinking water. Be sure to include a can opener if including canned food.
  • Bowls for food and water
  • Current photos and physical description of your pets, including details on markings. Ideally you should also be in the photo.
  • Medications, vaccination records and pet first aid supplies
  • Comfort items such as a toy and blanket
  • Small garbage bags
  • Paper towels
  • For dogs include: leash, harness with identification information and a sturdy carrier large enough to use as a sleeping area.
  • For cats include: litter and litter box, collar with identification information and a sturdy carrier large enough for transport

Pet owners should be aware that many evacuation shelters do not accept pets, and they must plan their destination in advance. Please check with local animal shelters or emergency management offices to determine if a pet friendly emergency shelter will be set up in your location.

Meanwhile, the Hawaiian Humane Society says the most important thing for people to know is that if it’s not safe for you, it’s not safe for your pets.

The public can make a huge difference by simply bringing their pets inside with them, ensuring they have a microchip and collar and tag and that their contact information associated with their microchip is up-to-date.

The micro-chipping process involves inserting a small chip underneath a cat’s or dog’s skin, where pet owner information can be stored in the event that the animal is lost and missing its ID tags. The process takes a few seconds and is about the size of a grain of rice.

The Hawaiian Humane Society has plans in place to make sure staff members are on call to watch the animals that will remain at the shelter during the duration of the two storms.

Dogs will remain outside in their kennels but have shelter to stay dry, but smaller animals will be moved inside the shelter’s classroom and staff will monitor the communal cat house where all the shelter’s cats reside. Vaughn said the animals will also have enough food and water to last them at least a week.

The shelter will still be receiving incoming animals, but may be closed to the public on Thursday and Friday.

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