VAAFM Advises Pet Owners on Storm Preparations



Kristin Haas, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, 802-828-2430
Alison Kosakowski, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, 802-828-2430

Monday, October 29, 2012

As Hurricane Sandy tracks along the eastern seaboard, Vermont is preparing for an extended wind event with gusts forecasted to peak at 60-80 miles per hour. Local, state and federal emergency response officials are making necessary preparations, and individual citizens are also preparing to weather this event. Part of this preparation involves making sure that household pets are safe, especially in the event that pet owners must evacuate due to power outages or for other reasons. Since almost 75% of Vermont households contain pets, making appropriate decisions regarding their welfare can be critical to protecting the health and safety of owners and of responders. If faced with a need to evacuate, citizens who have pets should check with town officials to determine whether their local human shelter has the capability to co-shelter pets. It is important to follow appropriate procedures to facilitate the proper care of pets at home and during co-sheltering events. The Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets recommends that pet-owning Vermonters take the following steps to ensure their pets weather this event safely:

Before the storm impacts Vermont:

• Develop a contingency plan for your pet should you need to evacuate. This may involve identifying neighbors, veterinary clinics or other individuals who can house your pet or contacting town officials to determine whether co-sheltering of pets is a possibility for you.
• Take a digital photograph of your pet. Make sure that dogs are collared and that they have appropriate ID tags. Taking these steps in advance of the emergency will make it easier to locate pets that become lost during the storm.
• Make sure that you have proof of current rabies vaccination and that this information travels with your pet should you have to evacuate. Pets can exhibit behavior that is out of character when they are in stressful or unfamiliar situations. Proof of rabies vaccination will help to ensure that shelter staff and other caretakers are protected.
• Make sure that you have enough pet food, necessary medications and other supplies. The Agency of Agriculture recommends having at least a week’s worth of stock on hand in order to be covered during prolonged power outages.
• If you do not evacuate, bring your pet inside in advance of the storm or otherwise house the pet in a safe manner out of harm’s way.
• Locate crates, leashes and other means of restraint should it become necessary to relocate with your pet.

During the storm’s impact:

• If you evacuate, take your pet with you, but not all shelters that house people will have the capability to shelter pets in a co-located area. This limitation highlights the importance of pre-planning for your pet’s well-being should you anticipate having to leave your home during the storm.
• If you evacuate with your pet, use leashes or crates to restrain dogs and make sure that cats are confined to carriers.
• Evacuate with your pet’s food, water, medications, supplies (litter box, litter) and first aid kit. Do not assume that the temporary shelter will have essential supplies to meet your pets’ needs for any period of time.
• Be sure to travel with proof of your pet’s current rabies vaccination, veterinary contact information and other necessary medical documents.

After the storm:

• Your pet may be agitated or anxious for a period of time even after the storm dissipates. It is important to keep a close eye on him or her until that anxiety subsides so that your pet does not escape from your care. This may include ensuring that your pet is under supervision when outside and restraining your pet on a leash during walks and other outings.
• As soon as you are able and once you have attended to your needs and those of your family, get back into a routine with your pet. Household pets thrive on routines, and returning to a predictable schedule as soon as possible will lessen anxiety and other unwanted behavioral issues.

--- About the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets VAAFM facilitates, supports and encourages the growth and viability of agriculture in Vermont while protecting the working landscape, human health, animal health, plant health, consumers and the environment. Visit