Experts offer tips, guides for keeping animals safe during hurricanes


CLEMSON, SC (WMBF) – With hurricane season in full swing, keeping animals and pets safe during a storm can be tricky. Thankfully, several experts at Clemson University's Livestock Poultry Health program have compiled a list of tips and guides.

"Natural disasters like hurricanes and floods usually don't always give us much time to act. That's why it is vital to plan ahead," said Boyd Parr, South Carolina state veterinarian. "Being prepared can save you and your animals a great deal of stress. Develop a plan, stick with your plan and, most important, be safe."

Horses can be a special concern, said Livestock Poultry Health veterinarian Charlotte Krugler.

"Large pastures are often the best place for horses. Remember, horses have lived outside for thousands of years and their instinct will go a long way toward keeping them out of trouble," she said. "Check your pasture for hazards. Don't forget the water. During a hurricane, the leading causes of death are collapsed barns, dehydration, electrocution and accidents from fencing failure."

"Also, by leaving before a mandatory evacuation order goes into effect, you may avoid heavy traffic," she said. "If you decide to move your horses, you should know where you're going. Make arrangements with friends or boarding facilities well in advance. Call before you leave to make sure they can still accommodate you. S.C. DOT has set up recommended evacuation routes that can be followed to reach your destination."

Below is a list of emergency planning tips for pets, from the Clemson Livestock Poultry Health Department:


  • Pets should always be evacuated. Most evacuation shelters are not able to accommodate pets, so you must plan ahead to ensure that your pets will have a safe place to stay.
  • Contact hotels and motels outside your immediate area to check their pet policies during an emergency. Call ahead for a reservation as soon as you think you might have to leave your home. You can always cancel.
  • Check with friends, relatives or others outside your immediate area. Ask if they would be able to shelter you and your animals or just your animals, if necessary.
  • Make a list of boarding facilities and veterinary offices that might be able to shelter animals in emergencies; include 24-hour telephone numbers.
  • Ask your local animal shelter if it provides foster care or shelter for pets in an emergency. This should be your last resort, as shelters have limited resources and are likely to be stretched to their limits during an emergency.
  • Identification of your pets is very important. Consider having your veterinarian place an ID microchip that can assist in finding pets that have become displaced or lost. Another  way to identify your animal is to attach the following information to a sturdy collar or harness: the pet's name, your name, your telephone number and another emergency telephone number where someone can be reached.
  • Prepare a disaster kit to take with you. It should include:
  • Medications and medical records stored in a waterproof container and a first-aid kit.
  • Information on medical conditions, behavior problems and the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to board your pets or place them in foster care.
  • Sturdy leashes, harnesses and carriers to transport pets safely and to ensure that your pets cannot escape. Carriers should be large enough for the animal to stand comfortably, turn around and lie down. Include blankets or towels for bedding and warmth.
  • Current photos and descriptions of your pets to help others identify them in case you and your pets become separated.
  • Food and water for at least three days for each pet; bowls, cat litter and a litter box; and a manual can opener.

For more tips, including emergency planning tips for horses and livestock, visit:

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