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What do I do with my pets when a hurricane is approaching?

Ben Steelman
Hurricane dog

This dog was stranded at a home along the Northeast Cape Fear River during Hurricane Floyd. (StarNews file photo)

When hurricane season nears, don’t forget the animals who live with you.

“I always say, if it’s not safe for you, it’s not safe for your pet,” said Jean McNeil, New Hanover County’s animal control director.

Include pets in your storm plan, the New Hanover County Animal Control Division advises.

If you’re heading for a motel or hotel inland, phone ahead to make sure it’s pet-friendly. If you plan to take your pet to a kennel or veterinary clinic, phone ahead to make sure there’s room.

In New Hanover County, the shelter at Noble Middle School, 6520 Market St., Wilmington [Map this], will take dogs and cats on a first-come, first served basis, once an emergency is declared. (Exotic pets, such as reptiles and amphibians are not permitted.)

Pets will be tended in a separate part of the facility, McNeil said. Pets, however, may not be dropped off; their owners must stay at the shelter as well. Its capacity is 60 dogs and 36 cats.

Other New Hanover shelters will not accept pets. New Hanover County’s Animal Control Center, 180 Division Drive, Wilmington [Map this], will begin accepting pets if a state of emergency is declared. The New Hanover Humane Society cautions that the center will fill to capacity rapidly.

In Pender County, the pet-friendly shelter is at Burgaw Middle School, 500 S. Wright St., Burgaw [Map this]. Only dogs and cats will be accepted.

In Brunswick County, the shelter at West Brunswick High School, 550 Whiteville Road NW, Shallotte [Map this], will accept dogs and cats. The Brunswick County animal shelter at 429 Green Swamp Road, Supply [Map this], will begin accepting pets as soon as the human shelters open.

Some boarding facilities may require rabies tags and proof of vaccinations.

Make sure your dog or cat is tagged and properly ID’d, McNeil said. It’s a good idea to have a photo of your pet with your important papers, in case you and your pet are somehow separated.

Bring your pet’s current medications. If you’re heading to a motel or hotel, bring food and water dishes, and enough pet food to last several days.

Even if you don’t evacuate, New Hanover Animal Control recommends assembling a pet’s storm survival kit. This should include a two-week supply of food, bowls, medications, specific care instructions, newspapers, cat litter and plastic bags for waste handling, brushes and combs and favorite toys.

Your pet should have a comfortably sized carrier. Dogs will need leashes and muzzles.

For more tips and information, visit New Hanover County Animal Control’s disaster preparedness page.

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