Planning ahead is the key to protecting your furry friend.

By Karen Asp
Updated August 27, 2020

When it comes to natural disasters, you have to expect the unexpected and prepare for the worst-case scenarios. Along with setting up a plan for your loved ones and safeguarding your home, you'll need to figure out how you're going to keep your pets safe in an emergency. (Because your furry friend is part of the family, too.) We spoke with several pet experts on what you can do to prepare for a hurricane, a flood, a tornado, or any other natural disaster. With these simple tips, you'll be as ready as you possibly can for an unpredictable event—and protect your pet.

Credit: Eva Blanco/Getty Images

1. Create a Go Kit

Just as we should have an emergency kit, so should our pets. If you're faced with evacuating for a hurricane, wildfire, flooding, or even a power outage, being prepared can make a big difference in quickly getting your animals to safety, says Kitty Block, president, and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. In addition to enough food and water for at least five days and supplies your pet uses daily (medicines, a leash or harness, carrier, and blanket), include current photos and descriptions of your pets in case they go missing.

Write down your pets' feeding schedules, vet contact info, and any behavioral or medical issues. Record the information on a sheet of paper that you laminate, add it as a note in your phone, or write it in a notebook that has a copy of your pets' vaccination records stapled into it. Plus, remember to update it once a year.)

2. Map Out a Safe Haven

The key is to know your options should you need to evacuate. Start by making a list of hotels that allow pets. Contact your city or state office of emergency management to find out where pet-friendly shelters will be located. Also, check with animal shelters or kennels within driving distance to see if they can take in animals during crises, Block says.

Another strategy: "Have a pet buddy," advises Nicole Forsyth, president, and CEO of RedRover in Sacramento, California. Ask a friend or family member who lives within driving distance if they could help your pet in an emergency; give them what they need to access your pet in your absence.

3. Think About a Microchip

A microchip is an added layer of insurance (in addition to a collar tag) in case you're separated. In fact, one study of pets in shelters showed that ones with microchips had a higher rate of return to their families. All it takes is a quick shot to insert the microchip under your pet's skin. You then register the chip online for about $20; if your pet is ever lost and ends up at a shelter or vet, they can scan the chip to contact you.

Remember, your pets are counting on you. Pets are part of the family, and it's imperative that they are included in all disaster plans. Whether it's a tornado, a traffic accident, or a terrorist attack, preparedness can save lives—and these tips will help you feel reassured that your family's pets will be safe and cared for in any situation.


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