When a storm rages up the coast, people prepare for power outages and possible evacuations in advance.
But a lot of people tend to forget one thing: their pets.
“People are so good at preparing for people,” said Jennifer Lafountain, volunteer and community engagement manager with the Heritage Humane Society. “But they don’t always think about what to do with the pets.”
Lafountain said storms such as Hurricane Dorian, which is currently making its way up the East Coast, can cause a huge issue for many animals shelters as pets run away or are left behind.
For those who aren’t prepared to give up their furry friend in the case of an emergency, there are options.
Lafountain said before any type of storm hits, people should prepare by packing the essentials for their pets.
“People need food and water, so do their pets,” she said.
To prepare, pet owners should make advance plans to go to emergency shelters or hotels that accept animals. In addition, they should always have a carrier available in their home so there is a way to transport the animal.
There is also the option of placing your pet in a shelter nearby if a pet owner can’t find a safe location for both themselves and their animal. The Heritage Humane Society does not accept pets during emergencies but, Lafountain said, they can help connect owners with local shelters that do.
To find a pet-friendly shelters and hotels throughout Hampton Roads, visit the Heritage Humane Society online.
Lafountain said if people plan to stay in their homes during a storm, then there are a couple of steps that should be taken to keep pets calm and safe.
“A lot of animals get nervous during storms but being near their owner can help,” she said. “It’s about making them feel comfortable and safe.”
Depending on the severity of the storm, there are different preparations pet owners should take.
In the case of a more severe storm that doesn’t require evacuation, Lafountain said owners should have a safe interior location in their home that can fit all the members of the household, including pets.
For less severe storms, just being near the animal and making them comfortable will suffice.
Lafountain suggests having a favorite blanket or toy available for them and playing relaxing music.
In addition, she said owners should prepare before any storm by making sure their pets are wearing identification tags and they have an updated picture of the animal in case they run away. To prevent a pet from running away, Lafountain suggests only taking them outside if it is necessary, and to make sure they are on a secure leash.
However, there are times when hurricanes don’t hit Hampton Roads as hard as other places and Lafountain said a good way to help during those storms is by contacting shelters in affected areas to see if they need fosters or supplies.
Lafountain added that the Heritage Humane Society can help connect individuals with shelters need help.