Prepare pets for Hurricane Ian

LARGO, Fla. (WFLA) — In the rush to prepare for Hurricane Ian, it’s important to think about your furry friends.

“Your plans should include all members of your family,” said Cathie Perkins, director of emergency management for Pinellas County. “Including pets.”

Animal shelters across the state want you to think about your pets.

“Well, we’ve got a tough week ahead I think,” said Marth Boden.

Boden is CEO of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in Tampa Bay. She said that having enough food, water, and medication for your pet is the number one priority.

“The most important thing is to be ready to move with your pet. If you have to evacuate, you want to make sure you have a good, safe van,” Boden said. “You may not even be in your own vehicle when you move, are you?”

She said pet-friendly shelters are great but could be a last resort, especially if you need your pet close by.

“Your pet and you may become separated if you go to a pet-friendly storm shelter,” Boden explained. “You really aren’t going to sleep with your pet. Your pet will be somewhere else.”

She suggested finding a friend to stay somewhere safe or finding a hotel. Many hotels are waiving pet restrictions during an emergency like this.

To keep your pet as calm as possible during a very stressful time, keep things familiar.

“Try to make sure you’re feeding the same food, you have a toy or two that you’re familiar with,” Boden said. “If you can carry something small, if there’s a blanket they always sleep on, bring it, put it in the carrier.”

You should also have your pet’s important information on hand, including microchip, vaccine and medical records. They may be treated by someone other than their usual veterinarian.

“Any plan you make for your human family members should include your furry family members,” Boden said. “Finners, chickens or feathered family members – whatever they look like, they also need to be part of this plan.”

Boden said if you still have time and are able to call your vet to check what your pet needs, do so as soon as possible. The SPCA has no plans yet to evacuate any of the animals it houses at its Largo campus. Boden said the site is high and usually dry and the buildings are solid concrete, but they will reassess if an opportunity to extract animals arises.

There are three pet-friendly storm shelters in Pinellas County that you can use as well.

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Russell Falcon

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