If you plan to evacuate in the event of a storm, have a destination and routes thought out well in advance. January, February and March would be good months to do this. Click here for a list of Animal Shelters available in MS. Plan to leave 48 hours before the arrival of the storm. The worst thing that can happen to you is to get stuck in traffic with a trailer full of horses and a hurricane approaching. If you choose to get out of the area altogether, take all your animals. Don't take your horse but leave dogs, cats and birds at home alone.
The leading causes of death of large animals in hurricanes and similar events are collapsed barns, dehydration, electrocution, and accidents resulting from fencing failure. If you own farm animals, you should take precautions to protect them from these hazards, no matter what the disaster potential for your area.
Evacuate animals as soon as possible. Be ready to leave once the evacuation is ordered. In a slowly evolving disaster, such as a hurricane, leave no later than 72 hours before anticipated landfall, especially if you will be hauling a high profile trailer such as a horse trailer. Remember: Even a fire truck fully loaded with water is considered "out of service" in winds exceeding 40 mph. If there are already high winds, it may not be possible to evacuate safely.
Arrange for a place to shelter your animals. Plan ahead and work within your community to establish safe shelters for farm animals. Potential facilities include fairgrounds, other farms, racetracks, humane societies, convention centers, and any other safe and appropriate facilities you can find. Survey your community and potential host communities along your planned evacuation route.
Contact your local emergency management authority and become familiar with at least two possible evacuation routes well in advance.
Set up safe transportation. Trucks, trailers, and other vehicles suitable for transporting livestock (appropriate for transporting each specific type of animal) should be available, along with experienced handlers and drivers.
Take all your disaster supplies with you or make sure they will be available at your evacuation site. You should have or be able to readily obtain feed, water, veterinary supplies, handling equipment, tools, and generators if necessary.
If your animals are sheltered off your property, make sure they remain in the groupings they are used to. Also, be sure they are securely contained and sheltered from the elements if necessary, whether in cages, fenced-in areas, or buildings.
Develop a Barn Safety and Evacuation Plan
Your evacuation plan should outline each type of disaster and determine specific scenarios best suited for each situation. It should include a list of resources such as trucks, trailers, pasture and/or feed which might be needed in an evacuation as well as a designated person who will unlock gates and doors and make your facility easily accessible to emergency personnel.
Post your plan in a clearly visible place.
Make sure that everyone who lives, works or boards at your barn is familiar with the plan.
Get to know your neighbors and their animals.
Select a Neighborhood Coordinator who is familiar with your evacuation plan and will be ready to assist should a disaster occur when you are not at home.
Learn to handle your neighbors' animals and identify those which have special handling needs (i.e. stallions).
Post an updated phone list (home and office) of all neighbors and anyone who boards at your facility.
If you board your horse, make sure that the stable manager has an emergency plan.
If you need to evacuate
Take your pets with you whenever possible (only service animals are allowed in Red Cross shelters)
Board with friends/relatives in a safe area.
Check with your local animal shelter.
Leave in plenty of time – you may not be able to take your pet at the last minute.
Identify your pets, include your address, phone number and the phone number of a friend outside of the disaster range. Have photos for identification purposes.
To transport your animals safely:
Condition your animals to being in a cage/carrying case/pen/trailer.
Keep animals on a strong leash/harness.
Take three to five days’ worth of supplies – food, water, high water-content fruits/vegetables, medication, cat litter, “comfort toys.”
Birds/lizards – blanket to keep cage warm/plant mister to hydrate feathers.
Snakes – pillowcase to transport/heating pad for warmth/water bowl to soak.
Pocket pets (hamsters/gerbils) – cage/bedding material/water bottles.
If you must leave your pets behind
Leave them untied in an interior room with adequate air and no windows – such as a bathroom.
Purchase a self-feeder in advance and leave enough food and water for at least three days. Leave faucet dripping with drain open.
Leave favorite bed and toys.
Place notice on front door with location and type of pets, their names and your contact phone number.
NEVER leave animals tied up outside.