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Prepare your pets for a major natural disaster

Making an emergency kit for yourself? Make one for your furry family member, too.

If a natural or manmade disaster happens that requires you to be on your own for days or weeks, you need to also be looking out for your pets. But what should you have ready for them? Here is what to consider for your pet emergency plan.

ID your pet: Make sure they're microchipped, and their tags are up-to-date with address and phone number. Some owners also put GPS trackers on their collar, such as Tile.

Just like with other members of your family, you need to plan how someone will take care of your pet if you cannot get to them. A major earthquake could wipe out roads and bridges and leave you -- and them -- stranded. Find a trusted friend or relative who will go get your pet and can watch them if you can't.

Emergency kit (To last your pet at least three days)

* Water: This priority one. Have a water bottle just for them ready to go. Remember that you can use the cap as a bowl they can drink from -- just don't share it with anyone else.

* Food: If it's dry, make sure it's in an airtight, waterproof container. But you may want to consider wet food instead. "Wet or canned food has a high water content, so they will drink much less when eating canned food," veterinarian Cherri Trusheim with Urban Animal said.

* Manual can opener and dishes if you're going with canned food.

* Medications: For cats include FeLV/FIV test results or vaccination date

* Veterinary records including rabies vaccination and microchip number

* Take a litter and pan for cats and plastic bags for dogs to pick up their droppings

It's also suggested you keep pets separated during a disaster, even if they usually get along. Anxiety during stressful times like this can cause a pet to act irrationally.

Have a pet carrier, and a leash or harness for each pet. Also have a blanket or a bed and at least one toy.

If you must leave your pet behind, know what shelters and boarding facilities will accept pets during an emergency both in and outside of your area. Make sure you have an updated copy of all their vaccinations in your emergency kit -- they may require that information. The ASPCA says local and state regulations do not allow Red Cross to take in pets during a disaster except for service animals.

You should also get a rescue alert sticker to let people know that pets are inside your home. Put them in a visible spot. Include the types and number of pets inside, and your veterinarian’s name and number. If you have taken your pets with you, write “EVACUATED” on the sticker.

It's also important to know the dangers of pets spreading disease to you and others after a natural disaster. The ASPCA says pets can transmit rabies, ringworm and leptospirosis through exposure to certain weather conditions, standing water, other animals, and insects like mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks. Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection in animal urine that can cause damage to your kidneys and other organs. To avoid catching these, wash your hands regularly and keep pets away from stagnant water and other animals. And make sure their vaccinations are up to date.

People with larger pets such as farm animals will have to take additional steps such as mapping out alternate routes for evacuation and determine final destinations for veterinary care.


Find pet-friendly locations

ASPCA mobile app shows pet owners what to do in a natural disaster. You can also store medical records, receive a missing pet recovery kit, and build a lost pet digital flyer that can be shared to your social media accounts. Android I Apple

Ready.gov animal preparedness

CDC animal preparedness

Red Cross animal preparedness

Humane Society animal preparedness

Join KING 5’s Disaster Preparedness Facebook group and learn how you and your community can get ready for when disaster strikes.