Many of the people facing mandatory evacuations from the path of Hurricane Florence are agonizing about what to do for their pets.
"It is often a last-minute consideration," says Celene Albano with the Hurricane Pet Rescue non-profit. "So people take their pets without the right supplies or adequate plans which then creates big problems wherever they go. Or they abandon their animals which is even worse."
Here are specific steps to consider to safely evacuate with your pets.
Before you evacuate
Check in with your vet: The veterinarian should be able to get you copies of your pet's records and proof of vaccinations. If your pet takes medication, make sure to get a two to three week supply. Check with your vet about enrolling your pet in a recovery database and getting your pet microchipped. Even if they have a microchip, your pet should also have a collar with a rabies vaccination tag and an ID tag that includes your cell phone number.
Put together a pet emergency kit: The North Carolina department of Public Safety provides a detailed list that calls for three to seven days of canned/dry food, enough water for a week, leashes, collars, muzzles and a sturdy carrier for each pet. Also include pictures of you and your pet together to help establish ownership and identity if you and your pet become separated. FEMA's emergency pet guide also suggests you pack familiar items such as favorite toys and bedding to help reduce stress for your pet.
Where to go
Seek out a pet-friendly boarding place: Many evacuation shelters will not take pets. BringFido has compiled a detailed list of pet-friendly shelters in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. Clemson University is maintaining an emergency preparedness page for South Carolina with shelter links and a list of stables and boarding facilities by county. Affiliate WTKR has a list of pet-friendly shelters in Virginia, and affiliate WNCN has compiled a list by county of North Carolina shelters accepting pets.
Consider places that'll take you and your pet: Hotels are not required to accept pets during hurricane evacuations. However websites like BringFido.com, GoPetFriendly.com and PetsWelcome.com can help you find a place that will take both you and your pets.
If they're staying home
Don't confine them: For owners who have to leave pets behind, don't confine them to a room or crate, or tie them up. They need easy access to move around and a way to get to high places. Leave plenty of food and water and write on the outside of the house that there are pets inside. Celene Albano and her group Hurricane Pet Rescue has a list of instructions that can be found here -- at the end of her long list of ways to evacuate with your pets.
Don't abandon them: Unfortunately, a lot of small pets are abandoned. During Hurricane Harvey, these were the phone calls that were the hardest for Albano. "Hundreds of people would call and tell us that if we could not take them, that they were leaving their pets. Pets are family, and I couldn't believe it. That is just wrong."