Discussions about pet care during and after a tropical storm is a new idea in many ways for south Louisiana and the Gulf Coast.
“Leaving your dog in the laundry room or garage with a lot of food and water for a couple days wasn’t strange before Katrina,” said Ginger Guttner, director of public relations for the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine.
But Hurricane Katrina changed that idea.
People who left their pets at home were faced with large-scale flooding and an inability to get back to their homes, sometimes for weeks.
What happened to thousands of pets, many of which ended up housed at LSU or the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales after they had to be rescued from abandoned homes, won’t likely happen again.
Laws were changed and people are now permitted to take their pets with them when they evacuate to shelters.
Perhaps most importantly, people are more aware that when they leave, their pets and horses need to leave as well.
Additional tips for what to consider for pets from the Louisiana State Animal Response Team and the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine include:
Don’t leave pets at home even if you think you’ll be back soon. Emergency situations are unpredictable. If you’re evacuating, your pet should, too.
If you’re going to stay at a hotel, make sure ahead of time that the hotel will accept pets and what kind.
Online information about pet-friendly hotels is available at www.pet-friendly-hotels.net, www.petswelcome.com or www.pets-allowed-hotels.com. Hotel policies can change, so make sure to call in advance.
The same goes for if you plan to stay with friends or family — you should make sure ahead of time that your pets are welcome. If not, make reservations at a boarding kennel or other facility in advance.
Make a copy of your pet’s proof of vaccinations and make it a part of your family’s emergency kit.
Bring at least a two-week supply of any medication your pet might be taking.
Make sure your pet has a tag with its name and phone number on it. The best option is a microchip, which is a small identification tag that is placed under a pet’s skin by a veterinarian. This chip can be scanned at almost any animal facility to help reconnect you and your pet.
It’s not just small pets that need to be included in emergency planning; it’s also important for horse owners to get ready, Guttner said.
Horse owners should make sure vaccinations are current and that horses have two forms of identification such as a microchip or tattoo and a luggage-type tag attached to the tail and halter. It’s also helpful to network with other large-animal owners in your area to be prepared to help each other.
If evacuation is necessary, the destination and route to be taken should be decided before a storm approaches.
Information on preparing to evacuate horses is available at the Louisiana State Animal Response Team website www.lsart.org.
If someone has special needs or doesn’t have transportation, they should call their parish emergency managers far ahead of any threat of emergency to register for special assistance. A list of parish emergency preparedness offices can be found at www.gohsep.la.gov/regions.aspx.
Emergency medical after-hours care is available at the LSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital on Skip Bertman Drive. The Small Animal Clinic is (225) 578-9600 and the Large Animal Clinic is (225) 578-9500.
Follow Amy Wold on Twitter, @awold10.