Living in the Gulf Coast area means we should all have a disaster kit prepared in the event of hurricanes, flooding, tornadoes, etc. When you have pets, you need to add pet-specific supplies to your kit, have a Pet First Aid Kit prepared, and ensure you have an animal care plan ready as well.
We highly recommend microchipping your pet AND ensuring you have an active registry with a microchip monitoring company. Should your pet become separated from you in the event of a natural disaster, a microchip may be the only way you are reunited with it. Ensure your contact information is up-to-date and consider providing an out-of-state alternate contact (friends or family preferably) in the event that communications are disrupted in your immediate area.
The Red Rover organization has excellent information on how to prepare for evacuating with your pet, including links to pet-friendly accommodations – NEVER LEAVE YOUR PETS AT HOME IF YOU EVACUATE. Knowing in advance where you can take your pets if you need to evacuate your home and having the contact numbers of several animal hospitals in the vicinity of your evacuation path should be a part of your disaster preparedness plan.
The following Texas-based websites provide useful weather, traffic, evacuation and shelter information for our area:
Texas.gov – Evacuating to Safety
TxDOT – Hurricane Traffic Information
Texas DPS: Public Information & Education Hurricane Preparedness Hurricane Preparedness Tips Hurricane Evacuation Q&A
National Weather Service - Houston/Galveston
National Storm Prediction Center
American Red Cross – Shelter Locator
Should you have to evacuate to an emergency shelter, be aware that some of these do not allow pets inside the shelter so be prepared to shelter outside with your pets – see Evacuation Health and Safety Tips. Don’t leave children or pets unsupervised in vehicles. Don’t leave pets tethered or crated without you.
Uncertainty and change in the environment affect animals. This may cause your pet’s behavior to change after a crisis, with them possibly becoming more aggressive or self-protective. Be sensitive to these changes and be prepared to give them more space between them, other animals, children or strangers. Animals need comforting too. Comfort your pet with kind words and lots of pats or hugs. If possible, provide a safe and quiet environment, even if it is not their own home.