- If you’re considering adopting an animal that was displaced by Hurricane Florence, experts say there are several things you should keep in mind.
- INSIDER spoke to the CEO of Hurricane Pets Rescue and the vice president of the ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Behaviour Team to gain insight.
- Experts recommend going through proper adoption channels, such as shelters.
- They also said its important to keep in mind that the animals are under emotional stress.
No matter the circumstance, adopting a pet can be quite the undertaking. But if you’re considering taking in an animal that was displaced by a natural disaster- like a hurricane – there’s more to keep in mind.
INSIDER spoke to experts about some of the best practices to keep in mind when considering deciding to adopt an animal by Hurricane Florence – or any other natural disaster.
Make sure to go through the proper channels.
Celene Albano, the CEO of Hurricane Pets Rescue, said the first and most important step is to make sure you’re looking in the right places – like a county shelter, where the animal is sure to be registered correctly.
If the animal isn’t registered accordingly, things could get tricky, Albano said.
“Make sure that the animal they’re adopting, that the people who took them in went through proper channels. The animals that people want to adopt may have owners and be looking for them,” she cautioned.
Alyssa Fleck of the ASPCA noted that most shelters will hold animals for about 30 days to make sure they are not pets that belong to families that could be looking for them. Fleck noted that for Hurricane Florence we are still in that 30-day window. Many of the animals that are currently available for adoption in shelters were transported out of state ahead of the storm to make room for the expected influx of lost and displaced pets rescued from the flood waters, Fleck said.
But as 30-day waiting period progresses, the other animals will still need new homes, Albano said.
“In the meantime, if [people] really want to adopt a pet [they should] go to the shelters that are making room for hurricane animals and adopt animals that adopt animals that are already there – even if they’re not hurricane animals. What is so glamorous about adopting a hurricane animal? We’re getting calls all the time about people who want to adopt pets from Florence. And what about the pets that are already in the shelters?” she said. “Those are the pets that need to concentrate on right now.”
Take the animal to the vet once you adopt.
This might sound obvious, but Albano said that you should take the animal to the veterinarian once it’s been adopted. Whether it’s an animal that was already in a shelter or one that was rescued from flood waters, you’ll want to have your pet checked out periodically.
Observe your pet for signs of trauma.
Dr. Pamela Reid, the vice president of the ASPCA’s Anti-Cruelty Behaviour Team, told INSIDER that living through a natural disaster like a hurricane can be harrowing for an animal.
“After a storm, some animals may be traumatized by their experiences. Being separated from their family and/or their home can be scary enough, but if the pet was lost during the storm or housed at an emergency shelter, the trauma can be more extensive,” Reid said. “Not surprising, animals that have undergone harrowing experiences can look like they are experiencing something similar to post-traumatic stress disorder.”
This might manifest itself in a sensitivity to loud noises, she said. But the animal behaviorist provided suggestions for managing a pet’s fear.
“If your dog shows signs of becoming distressed by certain sounds, try to pair the sounds with something the dog enjoys, such as special tasty treats or a favourite game of fetch,” she suggested.
Both Reid and Albano recommended keeping pets on a habit-forming schedule to help them reacclimate to household life. “It’s important to keep a stressed animal on a consistent, predictable schedule,” Reid said. “Whenever possible, try to reinstate the same schedule of activities that the pet enjoyed prior to the storm.”
Like people, animals respond to traumatic experiences in different ways. Reid recommends that new pet owners simply be accommodating.
“Provide a quiet, dark comfortable place so the pet has the option of hiding if he or she chooses,” Reid said. “If the pet appreciates attention and physical affection when upset, by all means, keep the pet with you and console him or her.”
Animals coming from shelters, she said, may not be house trained in the way one might expect.
“If your pet was in an emergency shelter, be understanding if he or she has house soiling accidents,” she said. “A cat may not have had access to the size of the litter box or the type of litter he or she was accustomed to and now needs a reminder to use the box.”
But if the animal seems to be having a hard time adjusting overall, Reid recommends seeking professional help.
“If the pet doesn’t resume normal behaviour within a week or two of returning home after a storm, talk with your veterinarian about a referral to a veterinary behaviorist,” she said. “A course of behaviour medication may help your pet cope and adjust to being home again.”
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