By Jodi Marze, Lifestyles Editor
The Picayune Item
PICAYUNE — June is the official start of Hurricane Season. Many people have more than human family members to consider as they make their preparations, they have pet family members also. Maria Diamond of the Picayune Animal Shelter which rescues cats and dogs along with RedRover.org Communications Manager Leili Khalessi have recommendations for pet owners of all types. “Pets should be up-to-date on all vaccinations and you should have a shot record from a veterinarian. Most places that board animals require this; you would need it for traveling state to state. You should also be sure all pets are wearing collars with up-to-date tags. When you get the pet tags made, you should consider putting your cell phone number on it. This will make sure, that if your animal gets separated from you, there is a better chance of reuniting with it,” says Diamond. A ‘ready bag’ for each pet is recommended, just as a packed suitcase would be for yourself. “It's best to have an emergency portable kit with supplies your pet will need. This includes sturdy leashes or harnesses and/or a pet carrier, food, drinking water, bowls, cat litter/pan, and manual can opener. You also will need medications your pet may be taking. A first aid kit for pets is recommended. Carry current photos of you with your pet in case they get lost. Microchipping your pet is highly recommended, it has made the difference in pets returning to their owners. If you plan to either foster or board your pets, you will need to supply information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and the name and number of your veterinarian,” she says. The main thing is to plan ahead. “Know where you will go with your pet before a disaster happens. Know which hotels and motels along your evacuation route will accept you and your pets in an emergency. Call ahead for reservations if you know you may need to evacuate. Ask if ‘no-pet’ policies could be waived in an emergency. Most Red Cross shelters cannot accept pets because of health and safety concerns. Know which friends, relatives, boarding facilities, or veterinarians can care for your animals in an emergency,” says Diamond. “Our Picayune Animal Shelter does not board animals during a disaster. There are several reasons for this, but the main reason is lack of space. We have to bring all of our outside animals inside when we have a storm which leaves no room for any extra pets. Also, it would not be safe for your pet to be housed with animals that we may not yet know the health of.” For those who have birds, Khalessi released the following information: “We recommend a one-month supply of pellets/seed mix; a two-week supply of water, eight small jars of baby food/fruit in natural juice cups and supplements for nutrition. “Although normally a two-week supply of food is recommended, bird food is not a priority item for stores to restock after a disaster, so it is advisable to have a one-month supply on hand. Baby food is an excellent source of fruits and vegetables for birds when fresh produce is not available. However, read the label to ensure that there is not too much vitamin and mineral supplementation.” When it comes to housing the birds during transportation, Khalessi recommends: Hard-sided pet carriers with low perches inside and contact details written in permanent ink; small cages with perches for safe housing; favorite toys; crocks for food and water; and newspapers for lining cage. “Safety items that help with comfort are also important,” says Khalessi. “Towels will be your best friend and are a must have when you are evacuating. They can do anything from cradling the bird to help restrain it to covering the cage.” In addition to a towel, she recommends: Spray bottles; hot and cool instant packs; a battery- powered fan; medications; contact numbers for your vet, and a vet out of disaster area; trash bags; apple cider vinegar/bleach for cleaning and paper towels. “Misting birds with water can help cool them down. Instant hot and cool packs can also be wrapped in a towel and placed in the cage to provide relief from temperature extremes. A fan attached to the cage can make a hot day more comfortable. A month’s supply of any medications should be kept on hand,” says Khalessi. Last, but not least, a first aid kit is a necessity. Recommendations for kit are: First aid book for birds, 4 X 4 gauze pads, gauze rolls, antiseptic wipes, triple antibiotic cream, Q-tips, scissors, tweezers, Instant cold/hot packs, disposable gloves, two rolls of vet wrap, popsicle sticks for splints, pedialyte - clear, blunt nose scissors, styptic powder, cornflower to stop bleeding on wings or soft tissue, hemostat for pulling broken blood feathers, cotton swabs, and feeding syringes in case hand feeding is needed.