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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Pet Planning for Hurricane Season

Yes, it's that time of year again, when Floridians begin to get the jitters about upcoming storms. We were certainly luckier than the folks along the Gulf Coast last year, but we got smacked pretty hard by Wilma (and in some parts of the state, folks still haven't recovered from the storms of 2004).

Let's hope we've all learned to take the threat seriously and plan ahead for ourselves AND our pets.

It's a terrible decision to make: whether to evacuate to a shelter and leave pets behind, or risk the wrath of the storm to stay with them. Who knows how many peoople died in Katrina because they stayed with their animals.

Fortunately, more pet-friendly shelters are opening every year, which should make things easier for some folks.

But let's face it: a lot of people are going to stay in place - and one never knows after the storm how long the power will be out, grocery stores will be closed, and vets will be out of commission, so here are some pointers, from Cherie Wachter, spokesperson for the Broward County Humane Society.

Keep a two-week supply of food and water for each pet. Make sure each has a proper collar and leash, rabies license, ID tags with two phone numbers listed, medications, litter and litter box, toys, and towels, a travel crate, newspapers and plastic bags for handlig waste, and a recent photo of your pet.

If you live in a mandatory evacuation zone or a mobile home park and you have a pet [try to] go to the home of a friend or relative who will welcome you and your pet.

In the coming weeks, I'll be listing pet-friendly shelters around Florida, most if not all of which will require pre-registration. I'll also be listing pet-friendly motels and hotels.