Hurricane season is well underway, and one statewide organization is urging pet owners to make sure their evacuation plans include a plan for their pets.
The Texas Humane Legislation Network said Texas pet owners, especially those living in hurricane- and flood-prone areas, need to take their pets into account when devising a plan for hurricane season, which began June 1 and goes through the end of November.
“We remember too well the heartbreaking stories that came out during Hurricanes Harvey and Irma,” said THLN’s executive director Laura Donahue Halloran. “As their people fled for safety, many companion animals were left behind, sometimes chained up or caged without access to food, water, or shelter. They were left to die in agony as the waters rose around them with no hope of escape.”
Tethering an animal in inclement weather is cruel and dangerous, she said, adding that all companion animals should be provided adequate shelter during such times.
Donahue Halloran said her organization has been working to encourage people to be more prepared.
THLN is asking pet owners to consider implementing a few simple steps to make sure their pets are part of their family’s emergency plan, including:
1. Making sure your pet(s) wear collars and tags with up-to-date contact information and other identification.
2. Microchipping your pet(s) - or updating information if you have moved or changed phone numbers since they were microchipped -- is one of the best ways to ensure that you and your pet are reunited if you are separated. Always be sure to register the microchip with the manufacturer and keep your contact information up to date with the microchip company.
3. Get a portable pet carrier or crate and help your dog or cat get comfortable in it.
4. Know where you will go, how you will get there, and if your pet will be able to go with you.
5. Prepare a small travel bag with essentials, including food for several days and any medications and an extra leash.
In 2007, THLN helped pass “Simba’s Law” in Texas, which directed local emergency management authorities to establish Animal Issues Committees through the Texas Animal Health Commission. THLN advises Texas residents to contact their local county commissioner’s office to find out whether their county has taken appropriate steps to accommodate companion and service animals during emergencies.