When a strong hurricane is approaching many will make preparations for themselves but can overlook the family dog thinking that it will take everything in its stride. All too often dogs are found left behind and in difficult life-threatening situations with rescue groups shelters overworked and overfull. Our dogs are our responsibility and it is up to us to make preparations before a hurricane or any disaster hits. If we do not then situations can become dangerous for both dog and humans Let’s make some points that will help;
1. Know what to do and have a plan. Write it down and ensure it is understood by the whole family. What will you need – crate, leashes, bowls, food, towels, fresh water, First Aid Kit, medicines, flashlights, radio for weather progress reports are essentials. Contact numbers of friends, rescue and emergency units. Have a list of dog friendly hotels, dog kennels, veterinarians and other facilities, outside the danger area and kept in a waterproof container easy for you to reach. If you are away when the storm hits and your dog is being looked after in your home, ensure that the caretakers know of these plans.
2. There is no doubt that one of the most important factors is to have a confident obedient dog that can handle a variety of situations (He should be well socialized and familiarized with life situations) and one that has confidence in you. There will be tensions even panic in the air when a severe storm hits and this can transmit to a dog in varying degrees. We therefore should be preparing our dog by ensuring he sees us as part of a team to handle any situation. Hiding, running off and showing fear can make evacuation difficult therefore it is important to have him familiar with being crated.
3. Have a leash always available in your pocket for use as required to help guide and lead your dog. A reflective collar and identity tag with cell phone number and contact information is important. Certainly have him microchipped. Even though he may be on a leash, still have a spare one in your pocket – rope type is good, just in case. Throughout a storm, should you decided to ride it through, keep him on a leash or in a crate and with you in a safe place.
4. Decide well in advance whether you are going to ride the storm out or evacuate. If you are to evacuate, and you definitely should if given this instruction by the authorities, do not leave it until the last minute. Calmly bring all required things together and move to safety. Have him on a leash before you even open the door to leave your home. Do not leave your dog behind, even in your own house. You may not be allowed back into a disaster area for a long time. Do not wait until there are high winds, heavy rain, waters rising and harsh conditions making it difficult to leave.
5. If you have friends that will take you in during the storm ask them if they are willing to allow your dog to stay with them. If friends you trust can take your dog, but you are going to stay elsewhere, ensure they have all the information on your dog, his supplies and know him well enough to deal with him and anything that should arise.
6. Should you decide to ‘ride’ the storm, designate a safe room and have all supplies held there. Have your dog on a leash and attached to you so he cannot escape should he become fearful.
7. Even when the storm is passing or has passed, follow through with the safety procedures with your dog. Take him out on a leash and let him familiarize once more with his surroundings. So much could have changed and damage be extensive. Security fences could be down and certainly there will be debris creating new images and result in concerns for the dog. Always try to remain calm and help the dog remain calm. Take your time, be patient and realize that his behavior may have been affected through the stressful times. In addition there could also be wild animals in places they have never been before. They seek shelter or are washed into places where your dog could sniff and be interested in.
In general dogs are very adaptable to many happenings and situations, however a hurricane, storm or disaster of any intensity can create issues that may last a lifetime. We want you and your dog to be safe; and preparation, ‘just in case’, can be a lifesaver.