Editorials

Have a plan for your pets should a hurricane threaten

SUN HERALD FILE 
 Wisconsin resident Kami Ward gives water to pets at the Project Halo animal rescue in Gulfport in 2005. Over 700 stray and surrendered animals were registered at the center after Hurricane Katrina.
SUN HERALD FILE Wisconsin resident Kami Ward gives water to pets at the Project Halo animal rescue in Gulfport in 2005. Over 700 stray and surrendered animals were registered at the center after Hurricane Katrina. JAMES EDWARD BATES

This hurricane season, no one has to die for their love of a pet.

In hurricanes past, notably Katrina, people stayed in evacuation zones because they didn't want to leave their pets behind and didn't know where to take them. Some died in the storms.

Today, that doesn't have to happen. In Harrison County, there is a pet friendly shelter at Harrison Central High School, 15600 School Road, near Gulfport.

But you can't just show up with a dog or cat. There are plans you need to make now.

You'll need a photo ID to check in, a crate or kennel for each animal (the Humane Society of South Mississippi says one will be provided if you don't have one), a collar or harness and leash for each pet, water and food bowls, three-day supply of pet food, medications, blankets, toys, treats and other "comfort" items, current photo of you and your pet and vaccination records (tag is not enough).

And, your pet will be housed in a different part of the shelter from the people.

Also, the HSSM does not keep pets at its shelter near downtown Gulfport so don't head there at the last minute.

If you're planning on heading out of town ahead of a storm, you'll need to check with motels and hotels to see if they accept pets. Many more do than did in 2005.

Here are some sites to help in your search for pet accommodations: Dog Friendly, Dog in my Suitcase and Pets Welcome.

If you can't find a hotel in the area where you plan to go, check with veterinarians and boarding facilities to see if they'll have room for your pets.

If it's safe to stay at your home, there are plans to be made there as well. The Humane Society suggests closing off or eliminating nooks and crannies where scared pets might hide, storing tools and toxic products where pets can't get into them and making sure you have plenty of food and water for your pet. After the storm passes, you'll likely be living in a disaster area so keep track of your pets, don't let them roam in an environment they'll no longer recognize.

And there are many plans to make for your loved ones and your home. The Red Cross offers a comprehensive list at redcross.org.

The time to make these plans is now, not in those harried days as a hurricane bears down.

This editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions of columnists and cartoonists are their own.

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