Animal experts offer hurricane season tips
With Tropical Storm Chantal tracking west in the Caribbean, Clemson University Livestock Poultry Health officials remind the public that Internet pages and downloadable guides are available for planning how to take care of horses and pets during hurricanes or floods.
“Natural disasters like hurricanes and floods usually don’t always give us much time to act. That’s why it is vital to plan ahead," said Boyd Parr, South Carolina state veterinarian. “Being prepared can save you and your animals a great deal of stress. Develop a plan, stick with your plan and, most important, be safe.”
Horses can be a special concern, according to Charlotte Krugler, animal emergency preparedness veterinarian for Livestock Poultry Health.
“Large pastures are often the best place for horses. Remember, horses have lived outside for thousands of years and their instinct will go a long way toward keeping them out of trouble," she said. "Check your pasture for hazards. Don’t forget the water. During a hurricane, the leading causes of death are collapsed barns, dehydration, electrocution and accidents from fencing failure."
If you decide to evacuate, make the decision early, Krugler advises. “Trailers and high winds are not a good combination.
"Also, by leaving before a mandatory evacuation order goes into effect, you may avoid heavy traffic," she said. "If you decide to move your horses, you should know where you’re going. Make arrangements with friends or boarding facilities well in advance. Call before you leave to make sure they can still accommodate you. S.C. DOT has set up recommended evacuation routes that can be followed to reach your destination."
Livestock Poultry Health officials offer these emergency planning tips for pets and horses:
Pets should always be evacuated. Most evacuation shelters are not able to accommodate pets, so you must plan ahead to ensure that your pets will have a safe place to stay.
Contact hotels and motels outside your immediate area to check their pet policies during an emergency. Call ahead for a reservation as soon as you think you might have to leave your home. You can always cancel.
Check with friends, relatives or others outside your immediate area. Ask if they would be able to shelter you and your animals or just your animals, if necessary.
Make a list of boarding facilities and veterinary offices that might be able to shelter animals in emergencies; include 24-hour telephone numbers.
Ask your local animal shelter if it provides foster care or shelter for pets in an emergency. This should be your last resort, as shelters have limited resources and are likely to be stretched to their limits during an emergency.
Identification of your pets is very important. Consider having your veterinarian place an ID microchip that can assist in finding pets that have become displaced or lost. Another way to identify your animal is to attach the following information to a sturdy collar or harness: the pet’s name, your name, your telephone number and another emergency telephone number where someone can be reached.
Prepare a disaster kit to take with you. It should include:
Medications and medical records stored in a waterproof container and a first-aid kit.
Information on medical conditions, behavior problems and the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to board your pets or place them in foster care.
Sturdy leashes, harnesses and carriers to transport pets safely and to ensure that your pets cannot escape. Carriers should be large enough for the animal to stand comfortably, turn around and lie down. Include blankets or towels for bedding and warmth.
Current photos and descriptions of your pets to help others identify them in case you and your pets become separated.
Food and water for at least three days for each pet; bowls, cat litter and a litter box; and a manual can opener.
Make arrangements in advance to prepare your horse trailer in case of an emergency.
Know where you can take your horses in an emergency evacuation.
Contact your local animal care and control agency, Extension agent or local emergency management authorities for information about shelters in your area.
Place your horses' Coggins tests; veterinary papers; identification photographs; and vital information, such as medical history, allergies and emergency telephone numbers, in a watertight envelope or zip-type plastic bag.
Keep halters ready. Each halter should include the following information: the horse’s name, your name, your telephone number and another emergency telephone number where someone can be reached.
Prepare a basic first-aid kit that is portable and easily accessible.
Be sure to have on hand a supply of water, hay, feed and medications for several days for each horse you are evacuating.
It is important that your horses are comfortable while being loaded onto a trailer. If your horses are unaccustomed to being loaded onto a trailer, practice the procedure now so they become used to it.
There may be times when the evacuation of your horses is impossible during an emergency. The following suggestions can aid you in your hurricane preparation efforts:
Make sure every animal has durable and visible identification.
Create a list of emergency telephone numbers.
Reinforce your house, barn and outbuildings with hurricane straps and other measures.
Modify your fencing and open gates so that animals may move to high ground in a flood and to low-lying areas during high winds.
Install a hand pump and obtain enough large containers to water your animals for at least a week after a hurricane.
If you have boats, feed troughs or other large containers, fill them with water before any high-wind event. This prevents them from blowing around and also gives you an additional supply of water.
A generator with a safely stored supply of fuel may be essential, as electrical equipment is necessary for the well-being of your animals.
Secure or remove anything that could become blowing debris.