There is no time like the present to prepare for another hurricane season. As our emergency agencies remind us every year, it is a matter of when, not if… Not only should families have an evacuation and shelter plan… that goes for your little dog, too! Being prepared for a disaster means also having a plan in place for your pets. Dorothy and Toto were sadly unprepared. Don’t be like Dorothy and Toto. Your plan should include knowing where your nearest pet-friendly shelter is and having a prepacked emergency pet kit ready to grab without delay.
Luckily, here in Hawai‘i, we have much more time to prepare for an impending hurricane than the folks in Tornado Alley, Kansas. A hurricane warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical storm-force winds. But there is no reason not to prepare way in advance in order to reduce stress.
In order to keep our people and pets safe during such disasters, each island has designated pet-friendly evacuation shelters.
“On O‘ahu, all of our evacuation shelters are pet-friendly,” says Jessica Tronoski, communications manager for the Hawaiian Humane Society (HHS). “There are HHS volunteers stationed at only a select few shelters to assist pet owners. We do not provide pet supplies. During hurricane season, especially, we try to educate the community to have their pet preparedness kit containing all the things you would need to take care of your pet prepacked and ready for evacuation at a moment’s notice.”
1. Update your pet’s microchip now. Make sure it contains your current contact information. Dogs or cats can be microchipped at your private veterinarian or by appointment at the HHS (https://app.waitwhile.com/book/hhsadmissions/service).
2. Listen to the news. In the event of an impending disaster, listen to radio and television broadcasts to find out if your nearest shelter will be open. Based on the nature of the storm and other factors, some shelter locations may be closed and other facilities may be utilized at the last minute.
3. Do not leave your pets behind. If it’s not safe for you, it’s not safe for your pet. Pets left behind can be injured, lost or killed.
Although all O‘ahu evacuation shelters are designated as pet-friendly, The Humane Society of the United States (www.humanesociety.org/resources/make-disaster-plan-your-pets) advises pet owners to never assume they will be allowed to bring their pets to an emergency shelter or that shelters nearby will be able to accommodate everyone, with or without pets.
So before a disaster strikes, check the website of your local emergency management office to see if you will be allowed to evacuate with your pets and verify that there will be shelters in your area that take pets and their people.
Hawaiian Humane Society supply list:
Hawaiian Humane Society’s disaster preparedness brochure:
Hawai‘i County Emergency Management Agency:
Kauai Emergency Management Agency:
Maui County Emergency Management Agency (Maui, Lāna‘i, Moloka‘i):