Harvey was so much worse than anyone expected that it seems nearly inevitable that some pets would wind up in harm's way. Even with the incredible efforts to save as many of these animals as possible, there is no doubt that when the flooding subsides there will be some real horrors revealed.
To give your own pets the best chances of staying safe in the event of a natural disaster — for their sake, your sake and so others' lives aren't put at risk trying to save them — Tim Rickey, the ASPCA's vice president of field investigations and response, recommends following some guidelines:
- Do everything in your power to take your pets with you if you evacuate. Make sure your pets have on collars with up-to-date tags, and that their microchip information is also current.
- Have a pet emergency kit on hand, with water, bowls, food and medication. Arrange with a friend, relative or neighbor to be your pets' designated caregiver if you're not able to do it yourself.
If the worst comes to pass and you can't bring your pets, be sure there is a rescue alert sticker on your window so emergency responders know animals are inside. Let your local emergency management office know your pets need rescue.
And "never tether your pet to a pole or tree, which prevents your pet from escaping high waters and getting to a safe area until they can be rescued," Rickey said.
Should you and your pets become separated, there are a number of online resources that can help reconnect you — city-specific lost and found pet Facebook pages, for example. Check with your local animal shelters; go in person if you can.
These shelters will probably have been caring for your community's lost, stray and abandoned pets through the worst of the dangers. They, like you, will want nothing more than for your animals and you to be able to go back home together.