Protecting pets is an important part of hurricane planning

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    pets from unsplash
    pets from unsplash

    Florida’s hurricane season continues through the end of November. Officials are urging residents to stay prepared, and they say that includes having a plan for pets.

    Animal welfare advocates are concerned about pet safety during storms and urge pet owners to take steps to protect their four-legged friends. Veterinarian Marianne Dallessandro says it’s important to make sure pets have identification in case they get lost. She says, “people should first get their pets microchipped because microchips serve as a form of identification for their pets in addition to a collar.”

    Dallessandro warns collars can be lost or can come off pets during a storm, but microchips can be scanned at a vet’s office or shelter to reunite owners with their pets. Once scanned, microchips can identify an owner’s name and phone number.

    Advocates say another important thing to remember is pets shouldn’t be left behind if a family evacuates. In Tallahassee, Chiles High School, principal Joe Burgess opened his school as a pet-friendly shelter during Hurricane Idalia.

    “If the biggest barrier is a place for you to have your pets, then we would rather them come here.” Burgess says. “That way they get out of harm’s way. One of our buildings is dedicated to housing pets through either the humane society or Leon County Animal Control.”

    Officials say animals that are left behind when their families evacuate face extreme danger, including getting lost injured and even killed.

    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has a checklist with information about how to evacuate with pets and what supplies animals might need in their disaster preparedness kits.