PEARL –The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency reminds residents that it is important to have an emergency plan in place for pets before a hurricane is imminent.
“Pets are an important part of many families,” said MEMA Director Robert Latham. “In past disasters we have seen residents make critical decisions based upon the welfare of their animals. By planning and preparing ahead, these important family members will be taken care of too.”
The following are tips provided by the National Hurricane Center for pet owners before, during and after a disaster:
Before the disaster:
- Make sure that your pets are current on their vaccinations. Pet shelters may require proof of vaccines.
- Have a current photograph of your pet.
- Keep a collar with identification on your pet and have a leash to control your pet.
- Have a properly-sized pet carrier for each animal – carriers should be large enough for the animal to stand and turn around.
- Plan your evacuation strategy and don’t forget your pet. Specialized pet shelters, animal control shelters, veterinary clinics and friends and relatives out of harm’s way are ALL potential refuges for your pet during a disaster.
- If you plan to shelter your pet, work it into your evacuation route planning.
During the disaster:
- Animals brought to a pet shelter are required to have: proper identification collar and rabies tag, proper identification on all belongings, a carrier or cage, a leash, an ample supply of food, water and food bowls, any necessary medications, specific care instructions and news papers or trash bags for clean-up.
- Bring pets indoor well in advance of a storm – reassure them and remain calm.
- Pet shelters will be filled on first come, first served basis. Call ahead and determine availability.
After the disaster:
- Walk pets on a leash until they become re-oriented to their home. Often familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and pets could easily be confused and become lost. Also, downed power lines, reptiles brought in with high water and debris can all pose a threat for animals after a disaster.
- If pets cannot be found after a disaster, contact the local animal control office to find out where lost animals can be recovered. Bring along a picture of your pet if possible.
- After a disaster, animals can become aggressive or defensive – monitor their behavior.
Pet disaster supply kit:
- Proper identification including immunization records.
- Ample supply of food and water.
- A carrier or cage.
- Muzzle, collar and leash.
Gov. Phil Bryant declared May 27-31 as Hurricane Preparedness Week.
For more information about emergency preparedness, visit www.msema.org.
The public is encouraged to follow MEMA on Twitter and Facebook for updates.