With Florence moving slowly toward the Carolinas and predicted to become a hurricane again in the coming days, now is the time to make sure you have an evacuation plan, especially if you have pets.
Many evacuation shelters will not take pets, according to the Department of Homeland Security’s Ready.gov site.
“If you leave your pets behind, they may be lost, injured – or worse. Never leave a pet chained outdoors,” DHS warns.
“Many animal owners are hesitant to evacuate unless they know their animals will be safe. But staying behind can put families in harm’s way, and leaving pets behind can hamper the efforts of first responders entering the area to deal with human life and safety issues,” Clemson University veterinarian Charlotte Krugler said in a press release.
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The university’s Livestock Poultry Health department maintains a website with lists of possible shelters to board animals large and small if a hurricane threatens the coast.
Planning ahead is key, Krugler said. The best options for people with pets is to stay with family or friends outside of the path of the storm, she said. There are also pet-friendly hotels that could be a good option.
“There are also numerous facilities for safe pet boarding across the state. However, some folks, especially those without transportation, will need to seek refuge in a shelter and some of these will have pets,” Krugler said.
North Carolina emergency officials say pet owners need to be prepared with the right documents and supplies if people evacuate to a pet-friendly shelter with their animals. Pets should have immunization records, collar and leash or carrier to be admitted to a shelter, according to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety’s ReadyNC.org site.
Pets will also need enough food and water for at least three days, and up to a week, North Carolina emergency officials advise, along with a two-week supply of any medications.
Farm animals pose bigger problems if they need to be evacuated.
Clemson’s Krugler warns that horse owners should evacuate before any orders are issued.
“Trailers and high winds are not a good combination. Also, by leaving before a mandatory evacuation order goes into effect, you may avoid heavy traffic,” she said.
The Clemson website has lists of pet boarding facilities throughout South Carolina, including emergency stables for horses away from the coast.
In North Carolina, the Department of Agriculture has guidance for livestock and horse evacuation on its website.
Charles Duncan: 843-626-0301, @duncanreporting