Winter 2017: Severe Weather and Canine Safety

By: Amber Kingsley

According to The Weather Channel, after ringing in the New Year, tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and flooding began in eastern Texas and waged a war through many southern states in early 2017. Parts of the Gulf Coast recorded 4-10 inches of rain over the first weekend of this year and significant flooding was reported throughout the region.

The aftermath of these severe storms left six people dead in its wake, including four in Alabama, one in Florida and another fatality reported in Georgia. These sudden and deadly storms are certainly cause for concern, but what are some ways we can keep our pets safer this winter?


Be prepared, just like the beloved Boy Scout’s motto and make sure your disaster relief/readiness package includes enough fresh water for both you and your pets. This should contain enough food (and treats) for them as well. The same goes for their medications, extra blankets, dry towels, anything to keep all of us safe and warm in the event of an emergency.

Be aware of the rules and regulations for local shelters, especially since some of them don’t allow pets. Find out where nearby pet-friendly locations are there for us before it's too late. Don’t wait until the last minute to find a safe place to stay that allows our four-legged friends.

Stay updated and be ready to move in an instant if waters begin to rise or storms become an impending danger. If you have a dog that’s particular sensitive to thunderstorms, similar to fireworks and sirens, consider a natural solution, such as Bachs Rescue Remedy. Have this on hand to keep them calm before the storm and it can help keep them calm during the calamity.


Now we’ve been warned about the possible destruction of an upcoming storm, consider taking pets to a place that’s much safer and outside the path of this upcoming weather pattern. Is there a spot that’s a few miles away (yet still nearby and not in the floodplain) where there’s a friend, relative, family member or other place where your pets may be stay and be much safer until the storm has blown over?

If you’re dug in and believe you’re going to stay, make sure your environment as safe as possible and be ready to move in a moment’s notice. This includes:

       Having animal carriers, leashes and collars with ID tags ready and waiting

       Carrying and keeping all their paperwork in a Ziploc ® baggie that’s ready to travel

       If you must leave pets or other animals behind in an area that you believe is safe, be sure to include waterproof contact information on where you can be found.


Once the dangers from rising floodwaters seem to have subsided, cleanup efforts begin. But many continued threats can still occur once the storms have passed and waters have begun to decline.  These can include carcasses of rodents and other nuisance animals that could be carrying potentially dangerous or diseases washing up in many unexpected areas.

Dogs and cats are particularly drawn to the scent of these types of problematic pests and they should be kept away from them at all costs. While diseases like rabies have been largely controlled for the most part among our pet population, these animals can still carry other illnesses and problems that can affect our pet companion population.

Long story short, before, during and after, with all the different problems that these type of tragedies can present, the lives of our animals are more important than our possessions. If you have the choice to grab something that’s precious to you, remember pet’s can’t be replaced, but property and pictures are just “stuff” and not a part of your family.