Hurricane Isaac 2012: A report from the shelters and rescues

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Tropical Storm Isaac is “nearly a hurricane” and likely to hit the Gulf area tonight, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC). Tomorrow is also the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina making landfall, so disaster preparedness is on my mind.

Calico cat sitting

Cats like Cassie at NOLA’s Ark in New Orleans are in the path of Isaac.

Although the damage is not expected to be as severe as it was in 2005, storm surges up to 12 feet are possible and hurricane conditions are predicted by the NHC. The governors of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama have already declared states of emergency. The mayor of New Orelans, Mitch Landrieu says that “the anxiety level is high,” according to CNN.

During Katrina we saw many people refuse to leave without their pets, despite gale-force winds and massive flooding. This attitude was shared by the majority of pet-parent respondents to a recent hurricane preparedness survey published by the University of South Carolina’s Hazards & Vulnerability Research Institute. However, even a small percentage of pets being brought to shelters and rescue groups can be overwhelming.

Find out what shelters and rescue groups in Isaac’s path are reporting after the jump.

Petfinder’s Shelter Outreach team is busy checking in with shelters and rescue groups in the affected areas. The SPCA of Livingston in Walker, LA reported on Sunday evening that it was receiving a high numbers of calls about owner surrenders from people evacuating. There were so many calls that the shelter did not have enough crates for the animals it was being asked to take. Our team is connecting the shelter with disaster grant applications.

Other shelters are working proactively to lessen Isaac’s blow on the pet community. The Humane Society of South Mississippi ran an emergency microchip clinic to help pet parents in case of accidental separation. (Learn more about microchipping your pet.)

If you find yourself in the path of a natural disaster it’s important to know what options — like pet-friendly shelters — are available to you before disaster strikes. (Read our article Evacuating Your Home and Pets in Disaster for more.)

Whether you ride out the storm at home or not, we suggest having the following on hand for any possible evacuation (all items assume a two-week supply):

  • Pet food in a waterproof container
  • Water in gallon containers (Miami Dade College suggests 1/2 gallon per pet per day in addition to 1 gallon per person per day)
  • Cat litter and a litter pan
  • Waste-disposal bags
  • Current photographs of your pet (You might want to take these photos with your phone and then print them so that you have hard copies as well as electronic.)
  • Copies of registration information, adoption papers, proof of purchase, microchip, tattoo or other identification information
  • Copies of medical records
  • Any veterinary medicines
  • Extra collars, harnesses and leashes
  • Pet first aid kit (See our checklist to be sure yours is well-stocked!)
  • Cleaning supplies for crates or other areas where accidents can occur

Check out our articles on disaster preparedness and pets for more information on how to ensure you and your pet are ready for any emergency.


You can help pets affected by disaster. Contact a shelter or rescue group in the affected areas and ask what it needs, or donate to the Petfinder Foundation’s Disaster Fund.