Preparing for Hurricanes with Pets

Here in Florida, hurricanes can seem commonplace.  There’s a temptation to take them lightly.  But it’s worth remembering that they are unpredictable forces of nature that command respect.

When Hurricane Dorian battered the southeast coast, my mom and I were prepared to evacuate, but even with preparation, things can go wrong.  Our plan hit a snag when we learned the hotel overbooked, leaving us stranded.  The manager was able to make arrangements with another nearby hotel:  a pet-free hotel, meaning no pets allowed.  Thankfully, they made an exception and we waited out the storm safely.


Davi last year during Hurricane Dorian, hunkered down in a hotel!

Rule of Paw:  expect the unexpected.

June 1st through November 30th is hurricane season.  This can be a frightening time for pets and humans.  Having an emergency plan in place is the key to survival. Your human should take measures to prepare now to dodge the devastating effects from these storms.

Make a Plan: 

Don’t wait until the last minute to prepare for a hurricane.  It is important to plan ahead to avoid last-minute surprises and confusion when the storm hits.

If you have to evacuate, find a safe place ahead of time. If you plan to stay at a local shelter, find out which locations allow pets and know all requirements – shelters require up-to-date vaccinations and certain supplies for pets.  If you plan to stay at a hotel, know which locations will accept pets.  Once a storm is approaching, hotels fill up quickly, so be sure to call ahead and make a reservation.

If you must ride out the storm at home, be prepared for what could be a rough 12 to 24 hours. Identify a safe room to hunker down and store emergency supplies. Be sure all windows and doors are closed and stay tuned to local reports.

Always Wear ID:

If you go missing during or after the storm, you’re more likely to be found if you are wearing a collar with identification tags. Better yet, get microchipped.  Have your human store your ID number and chip records in her phone and share with a friend or family member. That way, if her phone gets lost, you can still be reunited.

Take pictures.  Lots of pets look alike, so keeping a current photo showing your unique features will help eliminate mistaken identity.

Create a Pet Emergency Kit:

This is not that much different from a human one.   Pack enough food and water for five days and sturdy bowls to store and serve meals.  Include plenty of poop bags and litter scoop to clean up waste. Keep medication and health records handy and stored in a waterproof pouch.  A pet first-aid kit is also necessary, and don’t forget toys to keep entertained. Prepare a comfortable crate in case you need to evacuate.

After the Storm: 

While assessing the damage with your human, stay leashed.  Unfamiliar scents stirred up by the storm may excite or alarm pets – animals can easily get disoriented in such situations.  Hazards like downed power lines and trees are also dangers that could harm pets.

Remember, animals need emotional support, too. Comfort your pet with kind words and lots of pats or hugs while weathering the storm together.


Would you like to know more about resources available in Jacksonville to help pet owners prepare for a disaster? The Jacksonville Humane Society has a list of available options for you.



About the Author:
Davi is a brown dachshund with an appetite for adventure. He is the former canine columnist for Folio Weekly Magazine and is currently sniffing out stories for Unleash Jacksonville. He loves sweet potato treats, playing at the park with friends, and exploring the unknown.