East Coast residents urged to include pets in evacuation plans
As East Coast residents prepare for the impact of Hurricane Irene, RedRover, a national animal protection organization that sheltered more than 2,000 animals displaced by flooding and tornadoes this year, is reminding residents to take their pets with them if they evacuate.
A dog swims in a flooded New Orleans street after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Photo courtesy FEMA.
Pet owners can jeopardize their own safety and disrupt disaster relief efforts by refusing to evacuate, or by leaving their animals behind and attempting to rescue them later. Loose animals can also pose a health and safety risk for humans.
RedRover advises pet owners to keep animals safe with the following steps:
- Bring all pets indoors. Pets left to fend for themselves in high winds and heavy rain can get injured, lost, starve and hamper human evacuation and recovery efforts. Keeping pets inside makes it easier for you to round them up if you have to evacuate.
- Never leave pets behind. If you evacuate, take your pets with you. It’s the surest way to guarantee their safety and make sure you are not separated by the storm.
- Identify evacuation locations in advance. Read our disaster planning tips to find searchable databases of pet-friendly hotels. Homes of friends or relatives and boarding kennels out of the range of the storm’s projected path also make good evacuation locations.
- Assemble a disaster kit for each pet that includes food, water, medications, a crate and photos of your pet(s). This kit will prove useful if roads are blocked, stores are closed or you must evacuate.
- Make sure all pets have an identification tag and permanent microchip so they can be found if lost or separated from you.
“Six years ago, countless people who fled Hurricane Katrina left their pets behind, thinking they would be back in a day or two, but weeks passed before they could return home and by then it was much too late,” said RedRover president Nicole Forsyth. “We don’t want to see Hurricane Irene cause the same kind of heartbreak, so we implore pet owners to heed any evacuation warnings and move their families and their pets to safety as quickly as possible.”
Through its volunteer-driven RedRover Responders program (formerly the Emergency Animal Rescue Service or EARS), RedRover provides free temporary sheltering for communities that become overwhelmed by natural disasters or other crises. RedRover Responders volunteers are specially trained to set up and operate temporary animal shelters, where they feed and care for displaced animals until they can be reunited with their families or placed in new homes.
Visit www.redrover.org/disastertips for other pet disaster planning information.
Support our work to help animal disaster victims: Donate to our Emergency Relief Fund.
RedRover, formerly United Animal Nations, focuses on bringing animals out of crisis and strengthening the bond between people and animals through emergency sheltering, disaster relief, financial assistance and humane education.