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Evacuations ordered as the Carolinas brace for Dorian. What do you do with your pet?

If you find yourself facing the decision of whether or not to evacuate in the event of a hurricane headed your way, you have a choice. Your pet has no say in the matter

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Many people are unwilling to evacuate if they cannot take their animals with them unless they have a safe place to leave them. This is rarely the case. Every hurricane season, there are stories on the news about people risking their lives to protect their beloved pets.

Staying behind can put families in harm’s way and also the lives of those heroes sent to rescue them. Leaving pets behind can also hinder the efforts of the rescuers entering the area to deal with human life and safety. So, if you are evacuated, what do you do with your pet?

This boils down to one very basic truth. Most animal issues are really people issues. The goal is to provide the safest possible situations during an emergency for all involved. This means people and their animals.

Anyone who may need to be evacuated should try to locate temporary shelter for their pets with family or friends outside of the area affected. If that is not an option, the next best choice is a “pet-friendly’ hotel. There are also a few pet boarding facilities willing to take in pets in urgent situations such as evacuations.

Unfortunately, many people will not have transportation to leave the area and will be seeking shelter for themselves. Those persons may also have pets that will not be welcome there.

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A few steps to take before an evacuation.

  • Contact local veterinary clinics, boarding facilities, and local animal shelters. …
  • Reach out to family or friends outside the evacuation area.
  • Contact a pet-friendly hotel, particularly along evacuation routes.
  • Prepare a pet emergency kit to take with you.
  • Pack food and, if possible, water for the pet to avoid GI upset making the experience worse
  • Try to take at least one comfort item for the pet
  • Leash, collar and a crate, if possible should be taken with you.

A few things to know about animals being accepted or denied at shelters.

  • Most emergency shelters do not accept pets due to health and safety regulations
  • The few shelters that allow pets, require the owners to take care of their own animals to reduce the shelter’s need for more staff. Etc.
  • Only very small animals are usually allowed in any shelter.
  • You cannot force a shelter or a hotel to shelter your pet even if there is an emergency situation.
  • Under The Americans with Disabilities Act, private businesses–including hotels–are banned from discriminating against individuals with disabilities. They must allow service dogs. This is the only exception to make a hotel welcome your furry friend. It is illegal and immoral to try to pass off your dog as a service animal when they truly are not.
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What about the pets larger than a dog or cat?

The larger or more exotic they animal is, the more challenging your search for shelter. Horses are particularly difficult to evacuate. As for farm animals, it’s not always possible to evacuate them. Some may be safer left at home, depending on the situation and realistic options available at the time.

During a hurricane or other weather crisis, it is expected that bordering states will temporarily waive the restrictions of movement. his includes the quarantine and identification of animals crossing state lines. Normally, you must have a certificate issued by veterinarians regarding the health of the animal that is required to cross state lines.

These regulations frequently require certification by veterinarians as to the health of the animals being transported. State Veterinarian Boyd Parr has ordered the suspension of some of the requirements for the interstate transport of animals to accommodate evacuations. This only applies to the states that have requested and received accommodations. The order extends until Sept. 15 unless extended or rescinded.

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Where to look for help in sheltering horses

A list of some available sites for hosting equine evacuees is available on the Emergency page at www.clemson.edu/LPH.

Where to look for resources on emergency preparedness for animals

Who has already stepped up to help shelter pets evacuated due to Dorian?

  • Nearly 350 pets displaced by Hurricane Dorian have arrived in Delaware. These animals will be up for adoption both at local shelters later this week.
  • Brandywine Valley SPCA picked up 191 of the pets Tuesday morning from Wings of Rescue and ASPCA. The animals were airlifted out of coastal South Carolina.


Please note that many of these rescues involve the pets being put up for adoption as part of the process. Even if your pet is micro-chipped, there is no guarantee that you would be able to get them back.  If their life is truly in danger and you have no other way to save them, this may be your only choice. But, please find out if this is the case before making your decision if there is another option.

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As Wife, Mother of 5, and Nana of many more, I have known and loved many dogs who were treasured members of our family. My education, experiences in showing, breeding, and developing pedigree-based breeding programs for others gives me a strong background upon which to base articles of interest to most dog lovers. However, it is my great love for dogs that gives me the passion to share them with other dog lovers.


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