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Storm Stories

Natural disasters affect millions of Americans. They can strike without warning. Be prepared. Plan ahead for your own safety—and the safety of your pets.

Kind News magazine, June/July 2013

Chris Schindler of The HSUS's Animal Rescue Team removes cats from a flooded apartment after Hurricane Sandy. Lisa Godfrey/for The HSUS

Kayla Patterson and her little girl, Jazmyn, didn’t have time to grab anything when forced to leave their New Jersey home during Hurricane Sandy. They left without a cell phone, a change of clothes, or even their cat. For days, Fluffy was all they could think about. They worried that the 6-month-old kitten might be lost, or worse. Not allowed to go back to their neighborhood to look for the cat, they turned to The Humane Society of the United States for help.

The HSUS Animal Rescue Team had arrived in the disaster zone soon after the storm ended. Their trained search and rescue teams began going door-to-door looking for stranded animals—not an easy task. Whole towns were flooded. Houses were destroyed, and highways, schools, and businesses were under water. The rescuers waded through high water, mud, and rubble. They crawled through windows and under beds—anywhere a frightened pet might be hiding.

On one flooded street they found cats in a house that had floated a block from its foundation. Another cat was found in the rubble of a just-bulldozed home. In the end, the rescuers helped save cats, dogs, ferrets, hamsters, parakeets, chinchillas, snakes, rats, iguanas, hermit crabs, and goldfish.

Home away from home

The HSUS opened emergency shelters to care for rescued animals. Knowing their pets were safe at the shelters gave people comfort while they put their lives back together.

  • Jazmyn reunites with Fluffy. Stephanie Twining/The HSUS

It was at one of these shelters that Fluffy and Jazmyn were reunited. "Fluffy came in healthy and happy to be somewhere warm," says The HSUS’s Hetti Brown. She was even happier when she was once again in Jazmyn’s loving arms.

You can do it!

Put together an emergency kit for your pet:

  • Fill a duffle bag or plastic bin with a leash, harness, pet food, bottled water, food bowls, can opener, kitty litter and pan, and a copy of your pet’s medical records.
  • Have a pet carrier and/or cage handy.
  • If it’s necessary to leave in an emergency, bring your pet with you.
  • Be sure to take with you any medicines your pet needs.

Emergency tips:

  • Be sure your pets always wear ID tags and collars.
  • Don't let pets wander outdoors. That way, if you have to leave home in a hurry, your pets will be ready to leave with you.
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