Even if you don’t live in an area that’s prone to hurricanes, earthquakes, or tornadoes, it’s still wise to have a disaster response strategy in place—and to make sure it includes plans for any pets you have at home.
While most people would do everything in their power to avoid abandoning their pet, it's not unusual for animals to flee or get separated from their owners in the chaos surrounding a severe weather event. According to phys.org, the Louisiana SPCA estimated that about 15,500 animals needed to be rescued during Hurricane Katrina and, of those, 80 to 85 percent were never found by their owners.
But as Dr. Brian Beale of Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists pointed out in an interview with National Geographic, there are several steps you can take to improve your chances of finding and reuniting with your pets.
First, be sure to microchip and register your pets with a national database. In most cases, microchip implants can be done at your local vet, animal shelter, or rescue group, and the procedure is quick, simple, and painless. When you’re ready to register your pet—and this step is crucial—fill out the enrollment forms provided by your vet or clinic, or check out the Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool for more information.
This may seem like a given, but you should also make sure your pet is wearing a collar containing their name, as well as your name, address, and phone number, Beale recommends. Once you’ve ticked that item off your to-do list, make sure you have current photos of your pets on hand. That way, if you do get separated, you can enlist others to help you find your pets again.
For more tips, check out National Geographic’s video below.
[h/t National Geographic]