LARGO, Fla. (WFLA) — In the rush to prepare for Hurricane Ian, it’s important to remember your furry friends.
“Your plans should include all members of your family,” said Cathie Perkins, Pinellas County Director of Emergency Management. “Including pets.”
Shelters across the state want you to keep your pets in mind.
“Well, we’ve got a rough week ahead of us I think,” said Marth Boden.
Boden is the CEO of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) Tampa Bay. She said having enough food, water, and medication for your pet is priority number one.
“The most important thing is be ready to move with your pet. If you need to evacuate you want to make sure you’ve got a good, safe carrier,” Boden said. “You may not even be in your own vehicle when you’re moving around, right?’
She said pet-friendly shelters are great but might be a last resort, especially if you need your pet close by.
“Your pet and you may get separated if you’re going to a pet-friendly storm shelter,” Boden explained. “You actually won’t be sleeping with your pet. Your pet’s going to be somewhere else.”
She suggested finding a friend to stay in a safe place or locating a hotel. Many hotels waive pet restrictions during an emergency like this one.
To keep your pet as calm as possible during a very stressful time, keep things familiar for them.
“Try to make sure you’re feeding the same food, you’ve got a toy or two that is familiar,” Boden said. “If you can carry something small, if there’s a blanket that they always sleep on, bring that with you, put that in the carrier.”
You should have your pet’s important info on hand too, including microchip, vaccine, and medical records. They may be treated by someone other than their usual vet.
“Any plan that you’re making for your human family members should include your furry family members,” Boden said. “Fin, fowl, or feathered family members — whatever they look like, they need to be a part of that plan as well.”
Boden said if you still have time and are capable of calling your vet to check what your pet needs, do so as soon as possible. The SPCA doesn’t plan to evacuate any of the animals they house at their Largo campus yet. Boden said the location is high and usually dry, and the buildings are solid concrete, but they will reevaluate if an opportunity arises to get any animals out.
There are three pet-friendly storm shelters in Pinellas County you can use too.