As the region prepares for a possible round of severe weather, the Pennsylvania SPCA urges pet owners to keep their animals safe by following a few safety precautions. “Animals are impacted by the same disasters and emergencies as humans – natural, manmade, large and small,” said Dr. Lisa Germanis, Lead Shelter Veterinarian at the Pennsylvania SPCA. “Our biggest concern is for animals that are kept outside or are allowed free access to the outdoors.”
“We urge everyone to bring pets indoors well in advance of a storm,” said Dr. Germanis. Don’t assume that a dog house or crate will adequately protect your pet. Not only can dogs and cats be hurt by flying debris, tree limbs and flood waters, but they can be easily frightened by the strong rains, wind and any thunder and lightning. Anchor outside objects that cannot be brought inside to avoid injury to animals, humans or property.
If left outside, startled animals may attempt to get out of their enclosures and end up lost. “The middle of the storm is not the time to be looking for your lost pet,” said Dr. Germanis. Naturally, dogs will need to take periodic potty breaks outside. Keeping them on a leash or staying with them in a small enclosed area only briefly will lessen the chance that they’ll run away. All animals should have some form of identification in case they do get out or get lost. Microchipping is most effective because collars and tags can come off, making it hard to reunite pets with their owners.
In the event that traveling becomes necessary, such as an evacuation, a plan should be in place for your pets. The most important thing to consider is finding shelter. Not all public shelters accept pets, so create a list of family, friends or area hotels that will welcome your pets. Whether you are sheltering-in-place or need to evacuate, have an emergency kit for your pet that contains necessary items like food, medicine and a photo of your pet in case it gets lost.
And finally, be sure to give them lots of love and affection, too! “Just like people, dogs and cats can be frightened by storms or a change in their normal routine,” said Dr. Germanis. “Giving them lots of reassuring pats and hugs can help them weather any emergency situation.”