New York, N.Y.— June 1 marks the official start of what experts predict will be an extremely active Atlantic Hurricane Season and the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) urges pet owners in hurricane-prone areas to develop an emergency plan in advance to keep their families and pets safe.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center anticipates that up to 20 named storms will hit the U.S. over the next five months, with more than half of them being hurricanes. The ASPCA strongly advises pet owners to take the necessary precautions for this highly active hurricane season by securing essential supplies and establishing an emergency plan in advance of a disaster.
The ASPCA offers the following tips on hurricane preparedness:
- Always bring pets indoors at the first sign or warning of a storm or disaster.
- Make sure all pets wear collars and ID tags with up-to-date identification. The ASPCA also recommends micro-chipping your pet as a more permanent form of I.D.
- Obtain a rescue alert sticker, which will let rescuers know that pets are inside your home.
- Keep a pet emergency kit and supplies handy with items such as medical records, water, pet food and medications, and pet first aid supplies.
- Arrange a safe haven for your pets in the event of evacuation. Do not leave your pets behind.
- Choose a designated caregiver who can take care of your pet in the event you are unable.
"With many still rebuilding from Hurricane Sandy, it's hard to imagine another disaster, but don't wait until the last minute to start thinking about what to do with your pets," says Dr. Dick Green, director of disaster response for the ASPCA's Field Investigations and Response team. "Have your disaster plan and emergency kit ready in case you need to evacuate your home. The more prepared you are, the faster you can get you and your pet to safety."
A 2011 poll conducted by Lake Research Partners and commissioned by the ASPCA revealed that more than one-third (35 percent) of cat and dog owners don't have a disaster preparedness plan in place. In the Northeast, nearly half of dog owners (45 percent) and cat owners (42 percent) don’t know what they would do with their pets in an evacuation, compared to less than one-third of dog owners (28 percent) and cat owners (30 percent) in the South, where hurricanes are most common.
Microchips can be extremely helpful in reuniting lost pets with their owners. The 2011 research study also found that only a quarter of dog owners (28 percent) and cat owners (24 percent) have microchipped their animals. While pets should wear collars and tags with up-to-date information at all times, the ASPCA strongly encourages pet owners to have their pets microchipped as a more permanent form of identification.
The ASPCA Field Investigations and Response team frequently responds to hurricanes and other natural disasters around the country, including Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008 and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, in addition to being called upon by state and municipal governments and other animal welfare partners to lend expertise during large-scale animal rescue operations.
For more information on disaster preparedness and safety tips from the ASPCA, please click here.