Hurricane

Storm prep guide: How to care for your pets

Maria Carey takes her dog Puni for a walk Friday morning on flooded Whitehead Street after Hurricane Charley blew past Key West in August 2004.
Maria Carey takes her dog Puni for a walk Friday morning on flooded Whitehead Street after Hurricane Charley blew past Key West in August 2004. Miami Herald File

The lessons that Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe County emergency planners and animal care providers are hoping everyone has learned from past storms: Plan ahead and never leave your pets behind.

"Your pet is your responsibility," said Becky Herrin, spokeswoman with the Monroe County Sheriff's office. "Your pet needs to be a part of your evacuation plan. Just like you would never leave a family member behind, you should never leave a pet behind. "

Out these on the list: a two-week supply of food with a manual can opener and water, bowls for food and water that can attach to a cage, portable carrier or crate, identification including collar, tag, leash, Microchip, picture of you with your pet to prove it's yours, first aid kit, litter and litter box and cleaning supplies.

In addition to stocking up on supplies, a pet owner also has to think about things including where a dog can poop and pee if the streets are flooded or a storm is barreling down.

Herrin said that if the plan includes evacuating, make sure to find a pet-friendly place to stay in advance - whether it be a pet friendly hotel, shelter or family or friend willing to have guests.

"Everything should be done ahead of time," she said. "A person needs to know where they are going if the warning comes."

All counties offer at least one animal-friendly shelter.

The Humane Society of the United States also offers tips for large animals including cows and horses.

For horses, the website suggests to "permanently identify each horse by tattoo, microchip, brand or photograph." Keeping records of the horse's age, sex, breed and color is also important - if a horse should be displaced, the owners would have to be able to prove the animal belongs to them.

From small to large, cats to horses, one of the biggest issues after a storm is not being able to identify an animal. All counties offer microchipping.

Getting help

Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties have information available on their websites that list shelter options and offers resources for preparation. For Miami-Dade visit www.miamidade.gov/animals/disaster-preparedness.asp; for Broward, www.broward.org/Hurricane/AtoZ/Pages/AnimalsBeforeEvent.aspx and for Monroe , monroecountyem.com/index.aspx?nid=123.

Information on how to handle animals before and after a storm is available through the National Hurricane Center at www.ready.gov/caring-animals. For large animals visit www.humanesociety.org/about/departments/disaster_preparedness.html.

To safeguard a pet during the hurricane season visit ASPCA at www.aspca.org/pet-care/disaster-preparedness. Petsitters International also offers a list of resources at www.petsit.com/disaster-preparedness-resources.

To find a boarding veterinary hospital in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties, visit the South Florida Veterinary Medical Association at www.sfvma. In Broward, visit the Broward County Veterinary Medical Association at browardcountyvma.org.

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