Hurricane Irene: Are You and Your Pets Ready?

August 27, 2011 | By | Comments (7)

pet food in refrigerator photograph by jennifer mirsky

Though many would disagree, I’d say there are many benefits of living in New York City, and the relative absence of natural disasters is one of them. That, and the at-your-fingertips ability to have food, medicine, dry cleaning and just about anything your heart desires delivered to you day or night, with little advanced planning required.

Hence the approaching Hurricane Irene — lashing the Eastern seaboard — is a real novelty in our neck of the woods. Patients being evacuated from hospitals? Mass transit shutting down? Grim faces on TV underscoring that this is a serious matter?

As for our household, if I examine our emergency preparedness through pet-focused eyes, it looks something like this:

Water? Check. (Four 2.5-gallon Poland Spring bottles were recently delivered. Don’t worry — the dog drinks tap — but he prefers the ice-cold water from the refrigerator. On second thought, it won’t be cold if the refrigerator stops working, but that’s okay.)

Ample supply of pet food and treats on hand? Check. (Don’t ask — there’s more pet food than human food in our refrigerator, and that’s on a normal day, not on a day such as the one pictured above, before we left for vacation.)

Proper pet identification? Check. (We have the standard tag with our contact numbers, plus a HomeAgain tag, and he’s microchipped.)

Proof of vaccination? Check. (He has an up-to-date Rabies tag. According to NOAA’s National Hurricane Center, pet shelters might require proof of vaccinations, so make sure yours are current. The ASPCA recommends the assembly of an Evac-Pack for your pet that includes “photocopies of medical records and a waterproof container with a two-week supply of any medicine your pet requires.”)

Photographs of your pet? Check. (I knew there was a reason for all the photographs I’ve taken, not to mention the wallet-sized versions I made up! Self-justification aside, photographs of your pet are useful in case — heaven forbid — you and your pet become separated.)

There’s no shortage of preparation tips for pets in the face of a natural disaster, but thankfully The Humane Society of the United States has boiled down the tasks to a manageable set of three. The following is excerpted directly from their site, from their feature, Disaster Planning for Pets, Family:

  • Prepare a plan (even for everyday emergencies), including identifying a place to stay that will accept your pets
  • Develop a checklist for all your pets’ supplies and medical information
  • Identify a friend, neighbor, or family member who can take care of your pet if you are away

A rule of thumb to keep in mind is that if it isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for your pets. If you are told to evacuate, do not leave them behind. You don’t want them to become trapped — or to escape.

Other useful links:

Disaster Planning — Caring for Animals (

Disaster Preparedness (The ASPCA lists step-by-step advice and special considerations for birds, reptiles, and small animals.)

How about you? What are you doing to prepare for Hurricane Irene?