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Pet Care During Natural Disasters

Find out how to help your furry friends during tropical storms and hurricanes

Thousands of Tampa Bay residents are coping with a loss of power, flooded streets and sinkholes appearing due to Tropical Storm Debby.

And some of those residents have more to think about than themselves.

For pet owners, a natural disaster like a tropical storm or hurricane can wreak havoc on the lives of their animals, whose routines may have been disrupted because of inclement weather.

The wet weather has also caused an increase in the number of stray animals that local shelters are caring for.

Carol Childs, who runs the National Humane Society in Carrollwood at 4039 Gunn Highway, said she's received about 18 cats since Debby hit Tampa Bay on Sunday.

"People have been finding them (animals) in puddles," she said. "Because the ground is so wet, they are crawling into motors (of cars)."

Childs said people who normally don't mind seeing stray animals are worried about them because of Debby's effect on Tampa Bay.

"Because of the rain, people are more acutely aware," she said. "It's like, 'I gotta help them or they're gonna drown.'"

Marti Ryan, a spokeswoman for Hillsborough County Animal Services, said pet owners need to make sure their animals have identification in the form of a microchip in case of emergency.

"The more prepared you are in advance so you can scoop everything up," Ryan said, "the better."

Here are some tips for people caring for animals at home, or strays they've taken in during the storm:

  • If there's a storm in progress, find a closet or a place without windows for animals to stay.
  • Make sure your vaccinations are up to date.
  • Use a blanket to swaddle your pet.
  • Keep extra food on hand for pets. A two-week supply is suggested.
  • Have a secure carrier on hand for your pet.
  • Put your pet first, not a busy schedule.

For more information, or advice on pet care, call Childs at 813-695-4777.

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