MANHATTAN — The city is warning residents to prepare their pooches and other pets for the onslaught of Hurricane Irene, which is expected to hit New York as soon as Saturday night.
Sandra DeFeo, executive director of the society, suggested the bag contain five-days' worth of canned and dried pet food in airtight containers, all medications and vaccination papers, a portable water bowl (there are collapsible kinds), at least one bottle of water, and a favorite toy or blanket to comfort pets at times of stress.
For cats, she advised creating a makeshift litter box using a disposable roasting pan, with light-weight shredded newspaper substituting for heavier materials like kitty litter or sand.
DeFeo also encouraged anyone with a pet to keep an up-to-date photograph of them in their wallets at all times, along with a veterinarian’s contact information in case of separation.
Above all, she said residents should never leave their pets at home in the case of evacuation.
“You should always bring your pets with you, because you never know if you’re going to get back to your home,” she said.
City officials have already advised residents who live in low-lying areas, like Battery Park City, to begin making evacuation plans.
“Make sure your disaster plan addresses what you will do with your pet if a hurricane requires you to leave your home," the city's emergency preparation guide says.
While sheltering your pet at a kennel or with friends or relatives who live outside the evacuation area is ideal, city shelters will be admitting pets when they open at 4 p.m. Friday.
Pet owners are advised to bring cages, vaccination papers, and food and medication with them to the shelters. If they don’t have a cage, pets will be admitted as long as they're on a leash, have a muzzle or are in a carrying case, a city spokeswoman confirmed.
For non-portable pets, Aquariumworld.com advises fish owners to begin preparing now for the possibility of a power failure.
They suggest cutting back on feeding now to minimize waste and cutting off all food 24 hours before the storm hits, so that fish can finish fully digesting what's in their systems, reducing oxygen demand.
Owners also should complete a partial water change as soon as possible and replace filter pads immediately, the site says.
In case of a power outage, fish owners are advised to disturb their fish as little as possible to conserve oxygen, and to keep aquariums in the dark, using a dark sheet or blanket to encourage them to rest.
The site also suggests that anyone considering using a generator test their aquarium pumps to make sure they’ll work ahead of time.
Officials at Animal Care and Control, which operates the city's shelter in Manhattan, said its adoption centers will be closed over the weekend so workers can focus on caring for the stray animal population brought to its East Harlem location.
"As of now we haven’t seen any kind of increase, but we are beefing up for the potential of animals that will come into our care," said ACC executive director Julie Bank.
Bank said the center would be manned around the clock and is prepared with back-up generators and flashlights in case of power failure.
The center is currently accepting donations through Friday, but not over the weekend. For more information on needed supplies, visit the ACC site.