Keep pets of all sizes in mind when prepping for hurricane season

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 6, 2012



LAPLACE – In making plans and preparations for hurricane season it is important to not forget the non-human members of the family, whether it is a small household pet or a larger animal on a farm or ranch.

Pets, like any other member of the family, have their own special needs and must be worked into the family plan ahead of time. The LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, along with the state Animal Response Team, offers a variety of tips to make sure all pet owners know what to do when the time comes to leave the area.

“First and foremost, do not leave a pet at home under any circumstances,” said Ginger Guttner, director of public relations for the LSU Vet School. “Although most evacuations can last just a few days, there are times that you may not be able to return quickly. The safest place for your pet is with you.”

Guttner said it is important to ensure that pets are up-to-date on all vaccinations and that proof of vaccinations is handy.

“It is a good idea to ask your veterinarian now for a copy of your pet’s vaccination record,” Guttner said. “Keep this with your emergency kit. If your pet is on medication, bring at least a two week supply.”

Pet owners must also consider where they are going in an evacuation scenario. When going to a hotel, call ahead and make sure that animals are welcome. Many hotels relax their policies during times of crisis, but don’t assume that this will be the case. More information about pet-friendly hotels can be found at www.bringyourpet. com, www.petswel, or

If the destination is a friend or family member, make sure that your pets are invited as well. If not, ask for recommendations of nearby veterinary hospitals or boarding kennels and make reservations in advance.

“Identification is crucial, Guttner said. “The ideal form of identification is a microchip (tiny permanent tag placed under a pet’s skin by a vet that can be scanned at any animal facility). At minimum, pets should have a tag with his or her name, the owner’s name and a phone number.”

People with special needs or people without transportation who have pets need to contact emergency managers at the parish level well ahead of time so they can be registered for requiring special assistance in a disaster situation. For a list of parish emergency preparedness offices and contacts, go to the gov/regions.aspx.

When it comes to larger animals like horses, Guttner said the Equine Health Studies Program at the veterinary school offer several tips to residents in areas prone to hurricane damage.

“It is a good idea to network a plan with other large animal owners in your area,” Guttner said. “Get to know your neighbors, plan a meeting, talk through different scenarios, identify the local resources for dealing with disaster situations and be prepared to help one another.”

Guttner said it is important to evacuate large animals a sufficient distance from the coast and added that a good general guideline is north of Interstate 10, preferably north of Alexandria. Arrange to leave a minimum of 72 hours before the arrival of the storm.

“The worst thing that can happen is to be stuck in traffic with a trailer full of horses and a hurricane approaching,” Guttner said. “Provide your neighbors with your evacuation contact information.”

Visit the Louisiana State Animal Response Team website at www. for more detailed information regarding large animal hurricane preparations and other emergency and health-related information.