Things can get hectic when a major storm is approaching, which is why now is the time for Southwest Florida residents to get a hurricane plan in place for some of the most beloved members of the family, pets.
The first step when preparing your pets for hurricane season is getting them microchipped, according to Karen Fordiani of Lee County Domestic Animal Services.
“Microchip your pets, do it now so you don’t have to worry about it last minute,” said Fordiani. “The ones that are microchipped are reunited much quicker. The percentage of reunited pets with microchips is exceedingly higher.’
The microchip is the size of a grain of rice and allows animal service personnel to scan the pet and bring up all the necessary contact information in case it is separated from its owner during a storm. Lee County has a walk in clinic that will microchip pets for $10 that operates from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. Collier County provides the service for $15, but only when a veterinarian is in the office, so make sure to call Collier Domestic Animal Services beforehand.
As always, residents are encouraged to make evacuation plans that involve staying with friends or family, but if you do need to evacuate to an emergency shelter, know which ones are accepting pets. The county does designate specific pet-friendly shelters, but in major events such as Hurricane Irma, it has expanded the number of shelters accepting pets.
“The county is going to do whatever it needs to for its residents, and its pets,” Fordiani said.
Shelters can often be cramped, loud, and startingling for animal. Fordiani suggested that owners bring airline crates for their pets as opposed to open wire cages to help shield them from some of the noise and give them a calmer environment.
If you are planning to head to an emergency shelter, here are some items that LCDAS says you should have ready to bring with your pet:
Animal carrier with ID placed on the outside
Medical records from veterinarian including vaccination dates
Collar with county license and other ID attached
Food & water
Familiar toys and bedding
Litter and pan for cats
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