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Agriculture Press Release

June 8, 1998

Plan Now to Care For Pets And Livestock in The Event of a Hurricane, Crawford Advises

TALLAHASSEE Pet and livestock owners should make specific plans for taking care of their animals in the event of a hurricane, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Bob Crawford said today.

Crawford noted that state and local emergency management officials have made detailed plans for coping with a hurricane and all Floridians should be aware of emergency procedures. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has been designated by the Department of Emergency Management as the lead agency for animal issues during a statewide disaster.

"Those with animals in their care must take extra precautions to ensure their health and safety during a natural disaster," Crawford said. "Most emergency shelters do not accept pets and livestock, making it essential that caretaking arrangements for animals be made well before the first winds blow."

The unpredictability of hurricanes makes it difficult to quickly and safely transport horses and livestock out of the path of a storm. Owners of large animals should not attempt an out-of-county evacuation unless they leave at least three days before the storm. Consequently, plans should be made to protect and maintain animals during and after a storm on the owner's or nearby property.

"Rising waters and flying debris from high winds can quickly kill or maim an animal," Crawford said. "Ideal locations should have both ample space and at least a seven-day supply of clean feed and water to protect and provide for the animals. Now is also the time to make sure fences are sturdy and provisions are made to tie down or secure equipment and other items that could become projectiles in high winds."

Owners of small pets may want to keep their animals with them in a secure house or other structure, or make arrangements well in advance of a hurricane to have them taken care of at a kennel or other boarding facility. Adequate plans should also be made for the safety and feeding of pets if owners must suddenly evacuate and leave animals behind. In any event, owners should have a sturdy and secure carrier or cage available for their pets. Owners also are advised to work with their pet before a storm placing it in the cage or carrier for short periods of time to get the animal accustomed to being in the confined space.

Crawford stressed that all pets and livestock should have identification firmly attached so that animals can be returned to owners if they become lost during a storm. Owners should also make sure all vaccinations, immunizations and other health-care requirements are up-to-date, and that records are maintained in a secure and accessible location.

While emergency management officials have made plans for the handling and management
of stray pets and livestock following a natural disaster, animal owners can facilitate this effort by making adequate preparations before a storm.

"Remember, your pets and livestock depend on you during an emergency," Crawford said. "Be prepared and you won't let them down."

For information about preparing your pets and livestock for a hurricane, call (850) 488-7079 or write:

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Division of Animal Industry
335 Mayo Building
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0800


Hurricane Planning For Horses and Livestock

The following tips are suggested to protect the health and safety of horses and livestock and their owners in the event of a hurricane or other natural disaster. These suggestions are in addition to basic measures you should take to protect yourself and your family.

  • Make sure that all vaccinations, immunizations and other animal health requirements are up-to-date, and that the appropriate documents are readily available.
  • Make sure that all animals are properly identified with your name, address and telephone number for prompt return if they become lost.
  • Check all fences, gates and enclosures for missing or loose parts and overall sturdiness.
  • Assemble halters, ropes or other animal restraining devices that may be needed during or after a storm.
  • Get a hand pump, if feasible, for shallow wells to provide water if electricity is out for an extended period.
  • Keep an adequate supply of hay on hand to maintain animals until normal commercial feed distribution channels can be restored.
  • Don't keep large animals in a barn, which may collapse, unless you don't have an adequate pasture.
  • If you don't have an adequate structure or pasture, make specific plans now to board your animals at a nearby location. Don't plan on evacuating your animals to a distant county unless you have at least three days before the storm is expected to hit.
  • Get tie-down straps or cables and anchors to secure equipment, small sheds and other items that might become flying debris during a storm and injure animals.
  • Be aware of potential flooding in your area and make sure all animals have access to high ground.

Hurricane Planning For Pets and Small Animals

The following tips are suggested to protect the health and safety of pets and small animals
and their owners in the event of a hurricane or other natural disaster. These suggestions are in addition to basic measures you should take to protect yourself and your family.

  • Make sure that all vaccinations, immunizations and other animal health requirements are up-to-date, and that the appropriate tags or documents are readily available.
  • Make sure that all animals are properly identified with your name, address and telephone number for prompt return if they become lost.
  • Obtain a sturdy and secure carrier or cage for each pet and get pets accustomed to being in a confined space. Keep leashes or other restraining devices available to control pets outside a carrier.
  • Make arrangements in writing now to take your pets to a kennel or other boarding facility if you plan on doing so during a hurricane.
  • If you plan to take a pet with you to a motel during a hurricane, check now to make sure the facility will accept animals.
  • Prepare a pet survival kit, including food for two weeks, a manual can opener, water/food bowls, medications, newspaper and plastic trash bags for handling waste, brushes and combs, and comfort items, such as pet toys, towels or bedding.
  • Survey your home and determine the best location away from windows to place pets during a storm, such as a utility room, bathroom, kitchen or other tiled areas that can be cleaned easily.
  • Do not leave any pet outside or tied up during a hurricane.
  • After a storm passes, walk your pets on a leash until they become re-oriented to their home, and downed power lines or other hazards have been cleared.

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For More Information:

Joe Kight
(850) 488-7079

Terence McElroy
(850) 488-3022


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