Before the Event
Don't forget about your animals when preparing for an emergency event. Your preparedness activities should include ensuring that your dog or cat has proper identification, assembling a pet survival kit and creating a shelter plan. This web page also offers tips on preparing for other pets, including fish, birds, hamsters and other small mammals, and reptiles.
Ensure that your dog or cat has a current rabies vaccination and Broward County pet registration tag. The heart-shaped tag on a secure collar is your pet's ticket home. In the event your animal becomes lost, the tag confirms your ownership so you can be contacted and reunited with your pet. Both Florida Statute 828.30 and Broward County ordinances 4-10 and 4-11 require your dog or cat be vaccinated against rabies and registered. A second form of identification is also recommended, such as a microchip, tattoo or separate identification tag with the name of a friend or relative engraved on it.
Obtain "Pets Inside" stickers and place them on your doors or windows, including information on the number and types of pets in your home to alert firefighters and rescue workers. If time permits, remember to write the words "Evacuated with Pets" across the sticker, should you flee with your pets.
Pet Survival Kit
While the sun is still shining, consider packing a pet survival kit which could be easily put to use if disaster hits. Recommended items for a pet survival kit include:
- A crate or carrier large enough for the animal to stand and turn around (use a treat or toy to help pets adjust to the carrier beforehand)
- Leashes and collars
- Two week supply of food (moist or canned) with manual can opener
- Two week supply of bottled water
- Water and food dishes
- Cat litter, litter pan and puppy training pads
- Favorite toys, blankets and treats
- Emergency phone numbers for veterinarian, animal shelters and friends/relatives
- Veterinary clinic address and phone number
- Veterinary records with rabies certificate and current Broward County license tag number
- Medications with instructions
- Cleaning supplies (newspaper, plastic bags with ties, paper towels, disinfectant)
- A photo of you and your pet together (to help prove the pet is yours), and one with the pet by itself, showing any distinguishing marks that will help with identification
First Aid Kit
Talk to your veterinarian about what is most appropriate for your pet's emergency medical needs. Most kits should include cotton bandage rolls, bandage tape and scissors; antibiotic ointment; flea and teck prevention; latex gloves, isopropyl alcohol and saline solution. Include a pet first aid reference book.
Store all items in waterproof containers that are easy to transport and won't easily tear or break. Do not use plastic or paper bags or pillow cases.
If you plan to evacuate, leave as early as possible. Options include staying with relatives or friends who do not have to evacuate, or evacuating to a pet-friendly hotel or motel.
Pet-friendly hotels and motels fill quickly before a storm. It is important to call the hotel or motel for reservations before you evacuate, and make sure they allow pets. Many change their pet policies during an emergency.
Kennels have limited space and most require proof of current vaccinations. Select a kennel not in the emergency evacuation zone. Ask your veterinarian if they offer boarding services because as a client, your pet will be given preference over a non-client.
Broward County's a pet-friendly shelter has limited space and is an option of last resort. It is available on a first-come, first-served basis, only to pet owners living in evacuation areas, or in mobiles homes throughout Broward County. The human side of the shelter is operated by American Red Cross. The pet side of the shelter is operated by the Humane Society of Broward County. Pets cannot be sheltered unless their owner(s) are also utilizing the shelter. This is pet-friendly shelter only, and not a general population shelter.
Residents living in an evacuation zone, or in a mobile home, can preregister for the pet-friendly shelter in person at the Humane Society of Broward County, 2070 Griffin Road, Fort Lauderdale, or call 954-989-3977. To preregister, you must present:
- valid proof of residency in an evacuation area, such as an electric, water or cable bill (driver's license is not sufficient proof)
- valid proof of current rabies vaccination and Broward County pet license
- name, address and phone number of your veterinarian
- a current photo of the pets you are planning to bring (photo non-returnable)
Keep in mind that you may be unable to return to your home after the storm or emergency and you may need to board your pet. Find out where pet boarding facilities are located. Be sure to research some outside your local area in case local facilities are closed.
Most boarding kennels, veterinarians and animal shelters will need your pet's medical records to make sure all vaccinations are current. Include copies in your pet survival kit along with a photo of your pet.
Sheltering At Home
- Bring your pets inside immediately
- Animals have instincts about severe weather changes and will often isolate themselves if they are afraid. Bringing them inside early can stop them from running away. Never leave a pet outside or tied up during a storm
- Have newspapers on hand for sanitary purposes. Feed your pets moist or canned food so they will need less water to drink.
- Separate dogs and cats. Even if your dogs and cats normally get along, the anxiety of an emergency situation can cause pets to act irrationally. Keep small pets away from cats and dogs.
- Make a back-up emergency plan in case you can't care for your animals yourself. Develop a buddy system with neighbors, friends and relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so. Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to make it on your own for at least three days, maybe longer.
Caring for Other Pets
Tropical or Fresh Water Fish
Electrical power can go off in an emergency and stop the aeration pump in fish tanks. If the tank has an adapter, aeration pumps can be operated by battery, so be sure to include in your emergency preparedness kit plenty of batteries. If you have a generator, you can run the tank's cycle pump. If you have a big tank, a marine bait pump can be used with a 12-volt car battery to aerate the water.
If you are evacuating, transport birds in secure travel cages or carriers without water.
Keep the cage in a quiet area. Do not let the bird out of the cage. Take a photo for identification and either leg band or microchip the bird. Bring medicine, medical records, water, food, toys, newspaper or cage liner, and cleaning supplies. Make sure that the bird is caged and the cage is covered by a thin cloth or sheet to provide security and filtered light.
Transport hamsters, gerbils, ferrets and other small mammals in carriers suitable for maintaining the animals while at the boarding location. Take food, water, bowls, bottles, bedding and other care items.
A pillowcase makes an excellent transport carrier for reptiles. Immediately transfer the reptile to a more secure cage when you reach the boarding location. Bring adequate food, a water bowl and heating pad.
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Updated April 2015