Hurricane Harvey should be a reminder to all of us that while we can never be fully prepared, there are many things we can do to better our chances should Mother Nature strike. Hailing from the Midwest where tornadoes are a common occurrence, I took hurricane planning seriously during my two years in Florida. Of course, I had my father back in Iowa calling to remind me every few hours to fill my bathtub with water, stock up on bottled water and make sure I had enough batteries.
One of my first tasks as publisher of my Florida newspaper group in 2014 was to publish a Hurricane guide, an act that taught me that there aren’t many options for people with pets as few shelters were pet-friendly. As I watch the flooding in Texas unfold, I am reminded of just how difficult it would be to flee from your home in rising waters with pets. Texas animal shelters are filling up from the deluge of animals from the Houston area, so animals already up for adoption are being sent to other states. The Kings Harvest Animal Shelter in Davenport is asking for help from area residents in fostering cats and dogs that have been displaced by Tropical Storm Harvey. Anyone interested in fostering displaced animals is encouraged to visit the shelter and apply to become a foster home.
Even though we are far from the coast, there are steps we can take to prepare our four-legged friends for disasters. Prepare emergency supplies and traveling kits for humans as well as pets. In the case of tornadoes, make sure your basement has supplies for pets to be comfortable, as well as fed and watered. FEMA suggests having three to seven days’ worth of canned pop-top or dry food on hand, feeding dishes and water bowls, blanket and flashlight. Many pets get spooked during storms, so an extra leash or kennel can be of assistance. Photocopies or electronic files of your pet’s medical records can also be important. I keep mine in my online e-mail account for easy access.
Make sure your pet is wearing ID tags with up-to-date identification information and any urgent medical needs. Consider microchipping your pet. Many vet offices offer this service for a nominal fee. We had many area pets get loose this past summer after being spooked by fireworks and it seems each day we hear about another lost pet in Muscatine.
By sharing this information today, I do not mean to undermine the seriousness of the situation in Texas and the loss of human life, but as I watch the dogs and cats being rescued alongside people on the news, it reminded me of the few simple things we can all do to be better prepared to care for pets during a disaster. Whether it be a tree coming through your roof, wind storms in the Midwest or severe flooding wherever you may be, these few steps can help make a difference.