Hurricane season is here and in full swing.
Hopefully you have prepared yourself and your family in case you need to evacuate.
Even if you don't have to evacuate, have you prepared for at least a week without water or electricity? Did you include your pet in your plan?
Your hurricane plan has to include your pets. Your plan must include taking your pets with you if you must evacuate. The plan may include boarding your pet at a boarding facility or at your veterinarian's office. But, make sure you have made arrangements for this plan in advance. Don't assume the boarding facility or your veterinarian will have room.
Also, Manatee County Animal Services does not board pets under any circumstances. Friends or relatives may be a valuable resource to consider, as long as they are out of harm's way themselves. Your pets rely upon you, as your children do, for their survival. If you evacuate, it could be days or even weeks before you could be able to return home.
Always make sure your pet's vaccinations are up to date, including the rabies vaccination. Shelters or veterinary clinics require current vaccinations before they allow boarding. Don't wait until the last minute to get this done. Preparing in advance is important, especially in urgent situations. Is your pet properly licensed? How about a microchip? Both of these are very important ways to identify your pet and can ensure that we are able to get your pet home if they should become lost. Along with updating your pet's vaccinations, make sure you get the required license tag and a microchip. All of these can be obtained from your veterinarian. Please make an appointment to do this today, if you haven't done it already.
A microchip is a small device, about the size of a grain of rice, implanted beneath your pet's skin. The microchip contains a special number used to identify your pet. This number is linked to a registry containing your contact information, which allows animal shelters, clinics and veterinarians to contact you if your pet should become lost.
A microchip is not a GPS or tracking device, but it can ensure your lost pet is reunited with you. Once a microchip is implanted in your pet, make sure your contact information is current. This can be done by contacted your microchip manufacturer, provided by your veterinarian. All too often we pick up dogs and cats with microchips and the contact information is not
correct. Phone numbers have been disconnected or changed. The address given is vacant or you have moved from there. This makes it difficult to get your pet home to you.
In the aftermath of a hurricane, it is possible thousands of pets may be left stranded and separated from their families. A microchip is a form of permanent identification, in addition to the required county license tag, that can ensure your pet's return.
Next, make sure you have photographs of you and your pet with you and in your evacuation kit. Photographs are another way for you to identify your pet.
Use secure pet carriers, have a collar or harness and a leash for safety. Pack a pet evacuation kit. The kit should include pet food, water, bowls, vaccination paperwork, photos, microchip and license tag information, cat litter and doggie bags, bedding, toys and even a manual can opener. It's better to be prepared.
Make plans if you need to evacuate. Know your evacuation zone. Listen to the news and radio for updated hurricane related messages. Even though we have pet friendly shelters in Manatee County, these shelters should be your last resort. Take care of yourself, your family and your pet.
Watch for more upcoming events and adoption specials. Don't forget the ongoing BOGO special where you can adopt a dog or cat at the regular adoption fee and get a dog or cat for no adoption fee. Also, any dog or cat that has been in the shelter over 60 days is available for no adoption fee.
If you never have to look into the eyes of a dog or cat and make a choice, you are lucky. One day, we all would like to be lucky too.
Check out Manatee County Animal Services on Facebook. Like us and share us with all your friends. Our web site www.mymanatee.org/pets has a wealth of information, including your new family member for adoption. Or call 941-742-5933 for information.
Kris Weiskopf, chief of Manatee County Animal Services, writes this weekly column for the Herald.