During Hurricane Gustav, Lori D'Arensbourg went on a rescue mission. The Northside Humane Society president learned that a several of dogs had been left chained outside of their homes. With flood waters on the rise, they were in serious trouble.
"We actually went by boat and rescued a lot of those dogs that were going to drown," says D'Arensbourg.
It's a situation that could have been avoided. "To leave your pet behind is like leaving your children behind," says Dr. Alfred Stevens with the Sherwood South Animal Hospital says.
Stevens says pet owners should be proactive when it comes to their pets' safety. You can start by making sure your pet can be tracked down if lost during a storm. Your pet should always be wearing proper ID and medical tags, and experts suggest also keeping an up-to-date photo of your pet with you. It's best if there is a family member in the picture as well.
"If they get lost or adopted during the hurricane, you need proof that it was your pet," explains D'Arensbourg.
In the aftermath of storms like Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Gustav, more and more pet owners are opting to microchip their pets. Stevens says its a simple procedue. A veterinarian injects a small microchip, into your pets skin between the shoulder blades. It's almost like getting a routine shot. No anesthetic is required.
"That's a permanent identification and it's universally read across the United States," says Stevens.
If your dog or cat gets lost and is taken to an animal shelter or veterinarian, they can scan your pet's shoulder blades to see if they have a microchip. That scanning process will give them an ID code. Every code is different. That way, they are able to trace your pet back to you.
Pet experts also suggest keeping a list of pet-friendly hotels or local kennels where they can be boarded if you have to get out of town before a storm. "Don't wait until the event occurs. Call ahead, make reservations," says Stevens. "Make sure you have a place for your pet."
The Sherwood South Animal Hospital is open 24-hours a day and they're prepared if a hurricane hits. Stevens says the hospital has two huge generators to keep the entire building running if they lose power.
If you plan to evacuate and take your pet with you, there are a number of things that you should bring:
• One to two weeks worth of food and water
• Carrying case
• One to two weeks worth of any medicine your pet may be taking
• A copy of your pet’s medical records
• Toys, leash, litter box
Take a look at this website for more tips on how to prepare for a hurricane http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/HAW2/english/prepare/pet_plan.shtml