Are your pets ready for hurricane season?

Living in Florida, we know it is hurricane season. We are constantly reminded, and rightfully so, that we should have a plan for our families.

What is sometimes left out of these reminders is the need to also plan for our four-legged family members. As responsible pet owners, it is our role to make sure our pets are prepared for a hurricane emergency, too. They are family members and their welfare must be included in our planning.

If you need to leave the area, remember to find a safe place ahead of time that will accept you and your pets. Do not wait until disaster strikes to get ready.

If you will be staying with friends or relatives, contact them far in advance to ensure they are prepared for your arrival.

If you plan to check into a hotel, research their pet acceptance policies. Ask if the policies vary during a disaster. Call as early as possible for a reservation, as other prepared pet owners may be doing the same thing.

If you plan to ride out the storm at a local shelter, contact your local Red Cross chapter or emergency management, and obtain a list of pet-friendly shelters in your area.

The plan for your pets should include a disaster kit checklist. Each checklist should contain:

• ID tags, rabies tag, microchip ID and company contact information.

• Medications and medical records.

• Leashes, harnesses.

• Crate, bed and toys.

• Grooming supplies.

• Cat litter, pan and plastic trash bags.

• Carrier for transporting your pet.

• Current photo of your pet, with description.

• Two weeks’ worth of food and water.

• Manual can opener.

• Out-of-area contact name and phone number.

Remember to keep your pet’s disaster kits updated and prepared for any disaster. If you would like additional information, including a copy of Suncoast Humane Society’s Disaster Kit Checklist, please visit us online at

Lena Hart is director of marketing, public relations and media for Suncoast Humane Society, and may be reached at


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