Pet owners can protect pets by crafting emergency plans

Chalice Keith/The News

Story by Paige Effinger, Contributing writer

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey and Irma, many pets were left stranded, lost and homeless as their owners were forced to evacuate.

Organizations like the Humane Society of the United States and Wings of Rescue are helping animals throughout the country as hurricane season is ending.

Pet owners know pets are part of their family. Local Kathy Hodge said this is why it’s important to have emergency and evacuation plans for our animals.

Hodge, director of the Humane Society at Calloway County, gave pet owners several tips on how to take care of their pets during a natural disaster or hurricane.

Hodge said microchips, ID tags, updated photos and pet emergency kits are several ways pet owners can keep their pets safe.

“Whether the animal gets taken to the Humane Society or an animal shelter or a vet clinic, the first thing they are going to do is scan that animal for a microchip and hope the owner information is there,” Hodge said.

Hodge said she encourages pet owners to make up a pet disaster kit as well. She said this kit could even be used in home situations as well as forced evacuations.

The Humane Society at Calloway County has a list of items pet owners should include in their disaster kits available at their facility. Items on this list include food, water, medications and items like paper towels.

Christine Pickett, senior from St. Louis, Missouri, said her emergency kit for her animals is in the same place as her own kit.

“The only thing extra I have is a couple bags of dog food, but everything else that they would need is pretty much the same as us,” Pickett said.

Pickett’s dog also has anxiety. Macie, a lab and beagle mix, gets really scared during storms. Pickett prepares for any storm by having a thunder jacket for Macie to wear to help Macie calm down. She said she also has anxiety medication for her dog.

“I normally just keep them in my room with the curtains shut and the windows closed, that way they feel safe,” she said. “The biggest thing is making sure they don’t get anxious.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency states several ways that pet owners can help their pets during these natural disasters. Some of these tips include making a pet emergency kit, identifying shelters near you that will accept pets during a disaster and having up to date collars, identification tags and pictures of pets in case they are separated.