How to prepare your pet for a hurricane
Hurricane season lasts from June 1st to November 30th, with the most active months typically being August and September. Do you know how to prepare your pet for a hurricane? Do you have your hurricane supplies ready for you and your pets? It’s easy to start preparing today if you aren’t ready by purchasing items each time you go to the market or putting in your Chewy order. You don’t want to wait until you hear there is a tropical storm forming to do your typical preparations- do them right away. There are many medications and brands of dog food that are on backorder because of worldwide manufacturing and shipping issues.
TL:DR: our top tips on how to prepare your pet for a hurricane:
How to prepare your pet for a hurricane:
Update vaccinations, ID tags, and microchip your pets
This includes microchipping your cats and other pets if possible- and making sure their information is live on your microchip company’s database. If you don’t remember where you registered your pet, AAHA.org will help you look up the registry. Make sure their collars fit well, that they always have a collar with ID, and that you keep them leashed up if you need to go out for potty breaks during a lull in the storm. Proper ID will help locate your pets more quickly if they escape during a hurricane.
Get your pet a crate/carrier and get them comfortable in it:
You want a safe carrier for each pet in case you need to transport them. Make sure you’re training your pets to enjoy their crate time so they are not unduly stressed during an already stressful time. And remember, you can never leave your pets confined in a carrier at home alone if you need to evacuate.
If you’re sheltering in place, what’s good for you is good for your pet.
Make sure you bring them inside as soon as you hear of an impending storm. This is especially important for outdoor cats. Have the proper supplies for them to go potty indoors- litter boxes for kitties, potty pads for dogs. Some dogs are unused to using pads indoors. You can purchase a piece of sod and plastic kiddie pool to encourage them to relieve themselves on it. You will want to make sure to keep skittish animals confined, especially cats who might disappear into a spot you can’t reach.
Need to evacuate with pets? Where to go in Miami and Florida
Do you know your hurricane evacuation zone? Check out these storm surge planning zones from MiamiDade.gov. Once you know whether you need to evacuate or not, you can make your plans. If you need to evacuate, you must take your pets with you- they will not survive days without food, water. Hurricanes are traumatic and dangerous for humans and animals alike. We will go over pet-friendly shelters that open when evacuations are called for, such as the E. Darwin Fuchs pet-friendly shelter, and how to find a pet-friendly hotel.
Here are some websites for pet-friendly hotels in Florida:
BringFido.com (you can also call Bring Fido at 877-411-3436 for help)
Boarding your pets during hurricanes:
There are several local pet boarding facilities in Miami-Dade County that are out of the flood zone and equipped with backup generators. Contact them now to begin a relationship with them- perhaps board your pets there for a couple of days so they get used to the space. Added benefits include that they will have your pets’ information, vaccination records, and you will be a client, meaning they will most likely give you priority when there is an emergency.
If your veterinarian boards pets, we recommend that you ask them now about boarding during emergencies. These spaces are limited, so call to discuss emergency plans or reserve your space now.
Service Animals and Hurricanes:
According to FDA.gov, “pets that help people with disabilities are allowed in General Population Shelters and Red Cross Shelters as long as they meet the requirements for service animals under federal law (see ADA Requirements for Service Animals).”
Where to take your pets if ordered to evacuate during a hurricane:
Animal Services operates Pet Friendly Evacuation Centers (PFEC) during emergencies. Pre-registration is not required to use the evacuation center. Evacuation centers will be announced as needed. The PFEC locations will be announced as they are opened prior to the storm’s arrival. Visit miamidade.gov, call 311 or monitor your local news to keep up with the latest information. All animals will be assessed to determine if the animal presents a safety risk. Vaccinations nor medical treatment are NOT provided at emergency evacuation centers. Animals accepted at pet-friendly evacuation centers include: dogs, cats, ferrets, gerbils, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, common household birds and certain breeds of rabbits under 10 pounds. Read more here.
There are eight PFEC in South Florida. It is ESSENTIAL that you start making plans in case you live in an evacuation or flood zone right now. Pet-Friendly evacuation centers open depending on the severity of the hurricane for pet owners residing in qualified evacuation zones, unsafe structures or mobile homes. Pet owners are urged to bring food and provisions for themselves and for their pets, as well as PPE, hand sanitizer, and whatever your family needs to be safe.
Requirements for admittance to Pet-Friendly Evacuation Centers:
Keep in mind that not every pet evacuation center (PEC) will be open for every evacuation, so call your local hurricane hotline to find out which centers will be open. Pet owners will have to register for pet-friendly evacuation! Pet owners will also need to do the following:
- Provide proof of residency within an evacuation zone
- Present medical and current vaccination records for each pet. Annual rabies vaccinations and a visible Miami-Dade County dog license are required by Miami-Dade County Code. Strict enforcement concerning these violations is essential to ensure a rabies-free community. Cats are also required to have annual rabies vaccinations.
- Pet owners must bring supplies for themselves and their pet(s)
- Limit four pets per household
- Family member must remain in the PEC with the pet(s)
Read more on pet evacuation centers here.
List of items necessary for pets during hurricane season:
- Crate or carrier for each pet large enough for the pet to turn around in and cat carriers large enough for a small litter box
- Pet Identification Forms for each pet with photos attached
- Collar and leash for all pets (including cats) with ID and rabies tags on all collars and make sure they are microchipped. Some pet owners will write their phone numbers directly on their pets’ bellies with a marker.
- Vaccination records of each pet
- Three-week supply of each pet’s medications
- Sedatives for pets that frighten easily
- Disposable litter boxes and scoop
- Extra cat litter
- Plastic bags, paper towels, and cleaning supplies, including hand sanitizer, gloves, and disinfectant sprays.
- Three-week supply of food for each pet
- Manual can opener
- Food and water bowls for each pet
- Three-week supply of drinking water (you can fill your clean tub with water and use that for them).
- Toys or blankets your pet will find familiar
- Grooming items
- Detailed instructions for animal care and rescue workers
- Copy of emergency numbers and family evacuation plan
- Copy of veterinarian’s information
- Flashlight and batteries
- Pet first aid kit: include bandaging material, antiseptic ointment, alcohol, gloves, tweezers, muzzle, and gauze
- List of all hotels accepting pets in the area
How to communicate during a hurricane:
Heavy storms cause issues with phone lines. Have back up plans for where to meet, and consider investing in walkie talkies for your family. For Equipaws clients before, during, and after the hurricane: please continue to call our business line for any questions, and be sure to leave a message as well as email us. We’re going to do our best to be in touch with you before the storm and as soon as the storm is over and our team is once again safe.
Important links for hurricane readiness in Miami:
Download and print the 2022 Hurricane Readiness Guide here.
Learn whether you’re in an evacuation zone here.
Learn about mandatory evacuation orders in Miami here.
If you’re not leaving, this is an article on establishing a safe place in your home from the University of Florida.
Hurricane information: https://www.ready.gov/hurricanes
Learn how to make your own emergency supply kit here.
Keep up to date with http://www.miamidade.gov/emergency/ when it activates.
Find open hurricane evacuation centers in Miami here.
List of all the hurricane shelters that may open during a hurricane evacuation:
Miami-Dade County: Hurricane Guide. Not every site will open for every evacuation. For Miami-Dade shelter addresses and evacuation routes, click here or dial 3-1-1 to find out which shelters will be open when an evacuation is announced.
Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School (Pet-friendly) – North Miami Senior High School – North Miami Beach Senior High School – Highland Oaks Middle School – Miami Central Senior High School – Lawton Chiles Middle School – Hialeah Gardens Senior High School – Barbara Goleman Senior High School – Country Club Middle School – Miami Carol City Senior – Booker T. Washington Senior High School – Ronald Reagan Senior High School – Charles Drew Middle School – Miami Coral Park Senior High School – W.R. Thomas Middle School – Robert Morgan Educational Center – Terra Environmental Senior High School – South Dade Senior High School – South Miami Senior High School – Felix Varela Senior High School
For Broward shelter addresses and evacuation routes, click here or dial the emergency hotline at 3-1-1 or 954-831-4000.
Monroe County: Storm Ready Guide
Coral Shores High School (Pet-friendly) – Key West High School (Pet-friendly) – Marathon High School (Pet-friendly) – Sugarloaf Elementary School (Pet-friendly). Monroe County shelters will not open for Category 3,4, or 5 hurricanes. For more information about where to evacuate in the event of a Category 3 or higher, check the Monroe County Emergency Management website before a storm or call 1-800-955-5504.
Hurricane Visits for Equipaws Pet Services Clients
Daily Dog Walking Clients: First and foremost, please let us know if you’re going out of town to avoid the storm or if you will be home and do not need visits so we don’t send our employees out to your homes unnecessarily. If you do leave town, once you return, please reach out and let us know so we can resume our regular walking schedule once it is safe to do so. We will also reach out to you as soon as we are able to with any updates after the storm passes.
Pet sitting clients: The safety of our team and your pets is our priority. We will contact clients who can’t return in private messages to continue organizing your pets’ care and safety.
Best of luck to all of you riding out any natural disaster. Your team of Equipaws pet sitters will be here for you.
A founding member of the Equipaws family, Frankie can mostly be found working behind the scenes, helping co-create online branding, managing several social media accounts, designing brand collateral, writing copy, and managing events. She also fills in for pet sitters and dog walkers when needed in Palmetto Bay, Pinecrest, and South Miami. Her own small pack consists of Boots the Shih Tzu mix and Nutmeg the Chiweenie.