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Keep them safe: Tips for preparing your pets for a hurricane

Some puppies that were rescued by ASPCA during Hurricane Matthew (ASPCA)

With Hurricane Florence headed toward our coast, people are working to prepare their plans should evacuation be necessary.

One thing that may keep people from getting out of harm's way are their pets! So how do you keep them safe, while keeping everyone safe?

The ASPCA reports that last year alone, more than 37,000 animals needed to be assisted after being displaced by disasters.

They encourage pet owners to simply bring them with you, if you can. Never leave them behind or tether them to poles or trees.

If you can't bring them where you are going, ASPCA says to chose a designated caregiver, such as a friend or relative, who is outside of the evacuation zone to take care of your pets.

If you are able to bring your pets along, make sure they are also prepared. ASPCA says the stress of a disaster situation could cause animals to become skittish, increasing the likelihood they could escape and get lost. They recommend getting them comfortable with a travel carrier ahead of time. :

o You can help your pets develop a positive association with the crate by providing treats and playtime at the conclusion of crate time.

o Try carrying your pets around the house in the crate or taking a short drive.

o Prepare your pets by gradually acclimating them to their crates. First, place their food inside an open crate, and eventually have them eat their meals in the crate with the door shut.

Also, make sure all pets are wearing ID tags with up-to-date information. ASPCA also recommends micro-chipping your pets as a more permanent form of identification.

When putting together your hurricane kit, create one for your pet as well. Include items like medical records, water, water bowls, pet food and your pet’s medications. You can download the free ASPCA mobile app where you can keep all of your crucial pet records needed for boarding pets at evacuation shelters, as well as a disaster preparedness checklist.

Keep in mind, when evacuating, not all shelters accept pets. Horry County Government suggest calling ahead to find out if your shelter accepts pets, finding a pet-friendly hotel along your evacuation route or locate a pet boarding facility or animal hospital near your shelter.

For more tips from the ASPCA, click here.

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