The Caribbean islands and Florida have recently been battered by one of the worst hurricanes the region has ever experienced. The residents of Florida had the opportunity to see the devastation in the Caribbean before deciding whether or not to heed the warnings to evacuate their homes. Most people in the danger zone did decide to leave. But what happened to their pets?
Fending for Themselves
You would think that pet owners would have been keen to take their animals with them as they fled the storm. But some people left their pets behind to fend for themselves. Animal charities have reported that there is always a spike in the number of animals handed over to them when a storm is approaching. But many people don’t even bother to do that. They simply leave their animals to fend for themselves.
Officials in Florida are now threatening to prosecute anyone who is found to have abandoned their pets when fleeing the hurricane. Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control have said that they rescued 49 dogs before Irma hit. Many of these animals had been left outside in pens or tied to trees!
The authorities have asked anyone who found themselves having to shelter abandoned animals to come forward and report their experience to help them gather evidence. Floridians should also report any abandoned animals that they saw during the hurricane.
600 Animals Rescued
Representatives of The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) worked across Florida, Georgia and South Carolina to rescue an estimated 600 animals which had been abandoned. They established emergency shelters for the pets and now have many more animals than usual to re-home.
The charity is urging pet owners to consider their animals when preparing for any hurricane and to take their pets with them if they evacuate. There is always prior warning of a severe storm and so residents really should be able to formulate a plan which includes their pets. The ASPCA recommend the taking the following steps:
- Ensure that all pets are wearing ID tags with up-to-date contact information. The ASPCA also recommends micro-chipping all pets as a more permanent form of identification.
- Make a pet emergency kit including medical records, water, bowls, pet food and pet medication.
- Choose a designated caregiver in advance of any event, such as a friend or relative outside the evacuation zone.
Extreme Weather in the UK
The UK rarely experiences hurricanes, but many people will remember the devastation wreaked by a hurricane in 1987. There have been several major floods in recent years. These demonstrate that pet owners in the UK should also formulate an evacuation plan and one that includes their pets. If you have your arrangements in place, you can at least ensure the safety of your pets in any extreme event, even when you don’t receive much notice of impending disaster.