Preparing for disaster: Ensure your pets are taken care of in any situation

Preparing for disaster: Ensure your pets are taken care of in any situation
Make sure your pet’s collar is securely fastened and its identification tag is legible and attached. (File photo)

By Kim Jones Gilliam

On the heels of National Preparedness Month in September, it’s important to remember October is considered the heart of hurricane season and has historically yielded extremely dangerous storms up and down the East Coast. Who could forget Hurricane Sandy’seffect on our region in 2012?

Natural disasters and other emergencies can happen at any time. Hopefully your family has plans in place if disaster strikes, but did you remember to include your pets in those plans? Unfortunately, animals are affected by disasters too.

It is impossible to be prepared for everything; knowing which natural disasters are most likely to affect your area can help you plan for as many of them as possible, whether it’s wildfires, tornadoes or hurricanes. Once you understand the types of situations that can happen, it’s easier to know what supplies to keep on hand.

Fortunately, you can minimize the effects and repercussions of disasters by being prepared. Here are some ideas or how best to prepare for the worst.

Stay in the know. shares a few tips for staying in the know, e.g. keep a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio set to your local emergency station. You can also receive severe weather alerts from the National Weather Service via the Federal Emergency Management Agency mobile app. Always bring pets indoors at the first sign or warning of a storm or disaster.

Designate an emergency caregiver. What if you can’t make it home to your pet? Develop a buddy system with neighbors, friends and relatives to make sure someone is available to care for your pets if you are unable to do so.

Check your pet’s I.D. Make sure your pet’s collar is securely fastened and its identification tag is legible and attached. Check their microchip enrollment record to confirm your contact info is current. Consider adding an out-of-state alternate contact in case your local phone lines are down or jammed.

Register your pet with AKC Reunite. AKC Reunite is a nationwide pet recovery service. Add their number in your contacts so you can quickly report your pet missing and receive their calls: 800-252-7894.

Keep digital records. Make sure you have your pet’s vaccination records, current pictures – including one of you and your pet together – to easily be able to identify them after a disaster if they are separated from you and your family.

Create a pet emergency kit. This should include a few days of your pet’s food, water, dishes, first aid supplies, any medications, carrier/leash and bedding. If local officials require you to evacuate, that means your pet should evacuate too. Pets left behind may end up lost, injured or dead.

Pet alerts. What if a fire threatens your home: How will responders know you have pets inside? Or what if you are away from home and some- thing happens to you: Who will care for your pets? Place a pet alert at each home entry detailing the number and type of pets inside.

If you have a plan in place for both you and your pets, you will likely encounter less difficulty, stress and worry when you need to make a decision during an emergency. For more ideas, check out the AKC Emergency Planning Guide available online at

The writer co-owns Frolick Dogs, a canine sports club in Alexandria.