Do you know what to do with your dog in a hurricane?
Disaster preparedness for pets is crucial for our dogs and as responsible dog parents, it’s our job to create an emergency pet plan and have all the emergency pet supplies our dogs will need.
Hurricane season officially kicks off on June 1 and runs until November 30, but that doesn’t mean dog parents should wait until a hurricane watch is announced to prepare a pet emergency plan.
As a pet industry professional, I saw the problems many dog parents experienced when they did not have a pet emergency plan or the proper emergency pet supplies when I volunteered to help manage an emergency hurricane pet shelter area in support of the Hawaiian Humane Society last year (2021).
After learning what to do with your dog during a hurricane with these hurricane preparedness and safety tips, you are going to be extra prepared for hurricane season and demonstrate amazing responsible dog parenting.
This blog is about what to do with your dog during a hurricane with hurricane preparedness and safety tips for dog parents.
Hurricane Preparedness for Dogs
It’s crucial to have our emergency kits together and ready to go with all the necessary supplies and evacuation plans. Do you have a pet emergency kit with emergency pet supplies and a plan for your dog?
Putting together a pet emergency kit with emergency pet supplies is pretty similar to human emergency kits.
If you are new to dog parenthood or a season dog parent but not quite sure what you may need for a pet emergency kit, here is a list of essential emergency pet supplies:
- A printed copy of your dog’s current vaccinations, medications and supplements, heartworm results, and rabies certificate, if applicable.
- I say “if applicable” because dogs born and raised in Hawai’i that do not travel to the mainland or abroad do not receive rabies vaccinations.
- The Hawaiian islands are a few known places where rabies does not exist. However, if you are a military family or a new Hawai’i resident, and you brought your dog with you from outside the Hawaiian islands, your dog will HAVE a current rabies vaccine certificate.
- Recent photographs of your dog.
- A front-facing and complete body picture are highly recommended for easy identification.
- Pet description to include your dog’s breed, sex (male or female), color, weight, and any special markings.
- Microchip number and the information of the microchip company like the company name and phone number.
- Your current contact information like phone number, email address, home address, and any emergency contacts, like your spouse, partner, or relatives authorized to act on your behalf regarding your dog.
- Proof of ownership, like city and county registration or adoption paperwork.
- A secure and waterproof envelope to hold all these documents to prevent any damage.
- Two-week supply of food stored in a waterproof sealable container if you feed your dog kibble.
- This might prove tricky if you feed your dog a raw diet or cook your dog’s food, so be sure to ask your veterinarian for food alternatives or any recommendations on food storage for your dog’s current diet.
- If you feed your dog “canned” dog food, just make sure you have enough to cover the recommended 14 days.
- Manual can opener if applicable.
- Two-week supply of water.
- Spill-proof dog bowls for their food and water.
- Feeding instructions to include how much and how often your dog eats.
- Two-week supply of medications and supplements to include instructions.
- A one-month supply of flea, tick, and heartworm preventative.
- A leash, collar, or harness.
- Make sure none of these items are torn, have rips, or can easily fall apart when your dog is wearing them.
- Pet identification tags that can be easily read and with your current contact information.
- A kennel or crate that is the right size for your dog, bedding, blankets, or towels.
- Cleaning supplies like dog waste bags, paper towels, disinfectant cleaning spray, and grooming wipes.
- Pet first aid kit.
- A secure and waterproof bag or container to put all the supplies inside.
A side note about microchips, ensure that your pup is microchipped and that your contact information associated with that chip is up-to-date. As of July 1, 2020, the City and County of Honolulu implemented an ordinance requiring all pet dogs and cats over the age of four months to be microchipped.
I know that some of these emergency pet supplies might not make sense to have at home, but if you need to evacuate your home due to a hurricane and head to an evacuation shelter with your dog, you will need to have all your emergency pet supplies during your stay at the shelter.
If having to put together a DIY Pet Emergency Kit sounds a bit overwhelming, consider looking into a pet emergency go bag like Pet Evac.
Pet Evac Pak’s a pre-packed pet emergency “go bag” for your dog with emergency pet supplies. These bags are an excellent alternative for dog parents who might be tight on time and resources.
Dog Parents can add any extra emergency pet supplies to these sturdy and roomy bags, like medication and cleaning supplies your dog might need if you have to evacuate to an emergency shelter due to a hurricane.
Don’t Leave Your Dog Outside.
When a hurricane is making its way, and the threat of landfall is imminent, you need to figure out where to put your dog during a hurricane; one of the most critical steps in emergency pet preparedness is bringing your dog indoors.
Secure your pup indoors where it’s safe, dry, and out of the dangerous elements. Leaving your dog outside increases your dog’s risk of going missing because they are scared and put their lives in danger.
News stations will broadcast ample warnings to give you time to get your butts in gear, so there are ZERO excuses for waiting until the last minute to bring your dog indoors because you didn’t know the hurricane was coming.
If you happen to have a dog that is not typically an “indoor dog,” take the time and designate a room or area inside your home (bathroom, laundry room, kitchen) or secured enclosed garage where they can be safe and sheltered from the hurricane.
Prepare any space by making it as comfortable for your dog as possible with towels, blankets, soft beds to lay on, food, water, puppy pads to relieve themselves on, and a baby gate to keep them secured in their designated space.
When creating a designated pet area, consider a space where you can easily keep an eye on your dog, and your dog can see you. Pets during natural disasters may feel increased stress due to storm noises or feeding off their pet parents emotions, but knowing you are close by can bring them comfort.
Know Your Nearest Designated Evacuation Shelter
As much as we all think we will be sheltering in place in the comforts of our homes, it’s not always the case.
A critical step in disaster preparedness for pets is to learn how to evacuate with your pets and your nearest pet-friendly Oahu Hurricane Evacuation Shelter. Although all shelters are supposed to be considered “pet-friendly,” from my experience, it’s not always possible due to a lack of supplies or shelter personnel.
I recommend being familiar with your nearest emergency shelter protocols and requirements, especially regarding your pets.
It may come as a surprise and many dog parents are unaware, but your pets are not always allowed to stay with you at emergency shelters and will often be separated into a pet designated area. Dog parents may be required to show proof of updated vaccines and have all the proper emergency pet supplies for their dogs.
At the emergency shelter I was a volunteer at last year, pets were not permitted to stay in the same area as their pet parents, and the pet emergency shelter area was a separate building a bit of a walk away. Pet parents were permitted to visit with their pets but had to walk through the stormy conditions to get to the building, and there was no adequate form of contact or communication in a pet emergency. Proof of vaccinations had to be presented upon check-in, and pet parents had to provide their own supplies. Due to the covid pandemic, mainland American Red Cross personnel were not permitted to enter Hawai’i, making staffing extremely limited. Some designated shelters had difficulty creating and organizing pet emergency shelter areas. The Hawaiian Humane Society had minimal supplies to spare to help, complicating the entire situation.
Taking the extra steps to familiarize yourself with the shelter’s protocols, rules, and requirements affords you enough time to go out and buy any supplies for your pup you may not already have at home. Checking in at an emergency evacuation shelter with all your supplies demonstrates to emergency shelter personnel what a responsible dog parent you are.
Have a Pet Evacuation Plan Ready
Do you know how to evacuate with your dog? It may sound easy, but you may not be pleasantly surprised when all hell breaks loose, and you don’t know how you are going to take your dog with you.
When rushing to grab your bags and trying to remember if you have everything you need, you should know where your emergency supplies are, where you are going, and how to take your dog safely with you.
Don’t ever think, “oh, I’ll just come back and get my dog,” because there is a chance that local authorities may not permit you to enter the area where your home is located once you leave.
If you have more than one person in your household, designate someone to be the “pet evacuation leader,” the one individual who will grab your dog or dogs, grab the emergency pet supplies, and get your dog safely inside the car.
As you’re packing up your car, you want to be sure you can fit everything inside with your dog? If you have to bring a travel crate (also known as an airline crate) for your dog, you must make sure it fits safely inside your vehicle.
When you purchase a travel crate, they often come disassembled. Take measurements to know the proper size crate for your dog, that the crate can be quickly loaded inside your vehicle, and how much room you’ll have remaining for your emergency bags and supplies.
This is extremely important if you have a large dog or multiple dogs. Large or Giant dog breeds take up more space, and the same rules apply if you have multiple dogs.
You don’t want to find out at the last minute you can’t fit your dog, dogs, family members, and emergency supplies inside your car.
If you are a two-car household, consider designating one vehicle to transport your dog or dogs and the other vehicle for emergency supplies and any additional family members.
Having a pet evacuation plan and knowing how to evacuate with your dog will make a stressful time easier for you and your pets during a natural disaster.
DO NOT Abandon Your Dog
Dogs that are abandoned because their dog parents didn’t have an emergency pet plan in place are at risk of going missing, getting injured, or being killed.
Pet abandonment sadly happened during Hurricane Harvey in Florida and Texas in 2017. It is sickening to learn that an estimate of over 50,000 pets were left alone, terrified as the storm rolled through, and died because of their so-called “ohana” ditching them.Here’s a “fun fact,” pet owners that were found to have ditched their pets during Hurricane Harvey were not allowed to have their pets returned to them. The local authorities legally charged these pet owners with animal cruelty due to their negligence, putting these animals’ lives in extreme danger, and leaving them to die.
Sadly many of these irresponsible pet owners never came looking for their pups upon returning home after the storm. Some flat out said they didn’t want their dog anymore and relinquished custody when contacted by authorities.
As a new hurricane season approaches, dog parents should never have the mentality that “it’s never going to happen” because one thing is for sure, Mother Nature is incredibly unpredictable. When it comes to natural disasters, she DOES NOT mess around.
Have a pet emergency plan in place, and make sure your dog has a kit with emergency pet supplies ready.