CLEMSON -- When Hurricane Hugo raged through South Carolina in 1989, there were no formal provisions for evacuating pets or livestock; but now there is a statewide network for animal evacuations, coordinated by Clemson University's Livestock-Poultry Health Program through the South Carolina Emergency Preparedness Division.
Venaye Reece, a Clemson large animal veterinarian, is statewide director of the animal emergency preparedness program. She has united a number of animal support groups throughout South Carolina and neighboring states, including the state Department of Agriculture, Department of Health and Environmental Control, Department of Natural Resources, Association of Veterinarians, Animal Care and Control Association, Clemson Cooperative Extension Service and Horsemen's Council.
The group developed detailed evacuation plans for household pets, horses, livestock and exotic animals, including lists of locations for temporary housing throughout South Carolina and in neighboring states. South Carolina is among the first in the nation to formally address the needs of animals in emergencies.
"You should take your animals with you if at all possible," Reece said. "Livestock may still be left, but some arrangements may be made to move even cattle, hogs and poultry under certain conditions."
Reece urged animal owners to develop their evacuation plans before an emergency strikes. "Prior planning is the key," she said.
Some necessities if you are taking pets with you: