Managing pet anxiety and safety during a hurricane

Although Hurricane Laura spared most of the Greater Houston area, the Houston SPCA made emergency response plans in advance to help Houston animals.

The animal rescue and protection organization wants to take this opportunity to remind residents how critical it is to be 'pet ready' for any storm by making a portable pet disaster kit including food, water, medication, and vaccination records.

Every pet should have a hard travel carrier that is labeled with emergency contact information and enough supplies for at least two weeks. A favorite toy or blanket will also help minimize a pet's stress level.

Pet owners should take a selfie with their pet to prove ownership in case a lost pet is found, as well as important documents such as vaccination history and emergency contact information in sealed, waterproof plastic bags.

Ensure all animals are up-to-date on their vaccinations in case emergency boarding is needed. All dogs and cats should wear collars with ID tags, in addition to having a microchip with current contact information. "You should also include the contact information of a relative or friend outside the greater Houston area in case landlines and cell phone service are not working immediately following a disaster," said Dr. Dev, chief veterinarian at the Houston SPCA.

Safety tips for anxious pets include:

1. Check the fence line and gate in your backyard to block any possible escape routes.
2. Bring your pets inside your home well in advance of a hurricane or flooding event.
3. Create a safe place for pets, such as the inside of a pet crate in a quiet room. This will keep them from
hiding in small spaces where potential hazards are stored, like cleaning supplies, and it enables you to
evacuate more quickly if necessary.
4. Place some of their favorite toys or items that have your scent in their crate, as it can help distract them and lower anxiety levels.
5. Make sure your pet isn't near windows or shelves during a disaster.
6. Keep your pet emergency kit nearby, so you can keep their feeding schedule and don't have to search for pet food and other supplies if there is a power outage.

Finally, if you must evacuate, be sure to take your pet. If conditions are unsafe for people, they are unsafe for pets. Pet owners should identify an evacuation route and make temporary housing arrangements well before a storm hits, especially with the pandemic as emergency shelters and hotels may have limited space due to social distancing. This often means finding a boarding facility or veterinary office in the area where you will be staying.

A pet emergency kit should include a two-week supply of pet food, water and medication. Make sure all dogs and cats wear collars with ID tags, in addition to having a microchip with current contact information. "You should also include the contact information of a relative or friend outside the greater Houston area in case landlines and cell phone service are not working immediately following a disaster," said Dr. Dev. A printable checklist in both English and Spanish can be found here or at HoustonSPCA.org.

Want to help pets at the Houston SPCA? Here's how to give.

During COVID-19, Cruelty investigations, 24-hour injured animal rescue ambulance, curbside adoptions, COVID-19 fostering and the Houston SPCA's Wildlife Center of Texas continue to operate at normal. To report cruelty, file an online report here: Online Animal Cruelty Report or call (713) 869-7722. See an injured stray animal? Please call our 24-hour rescue ambulance at 713.880.HELP (4357).

Find injured wildlife? Visit the Houston SPCA's Wildlife Center of Texas or go here for more details on how to help injured wildlife. For more details and updates on this news and others, follow @HoustonSPCA on social and visit their Newsroom at www.houstonspca.org.