How to include your pet in your natural disaster plan

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September is Disaster Preparedness Month, and many people may have their natural disaster plans in place.

When preparing for natural disasters, we typically think about ourselves, our children, our neighbors—but we don’t always think about our pets.

“We are encouraging the public to make sure they have a pet disaster plan in addition to their own personal disaster plan,” said Margot Deconna of the Alachua County Humane Society.

This plan goes deeper than just keeping extra food and water for your pet.

Make sure to keep all your pet’s documentation and vaccination history handy in advance.

“If you needed to evacuate to a pet-friendly shelter, some pet-friendly shelters will not let you in without proof of vaccination,” Deconna said. “So it is really important to keep those things up to date.”

The Humane Society encourages all pet owners to plan to take your pets with you.

If there is some reason you need to leave your pet at home, do not leave them caged or leashed. Then they have the opportunity to move to a safer area.

“You would want them to be able to get to higher ground should there be flood waters,” Deconna said. “You’d want them to be able to escape should a tree branch come through the home, something like that. Think of all the ways you’d want your animal to be able to free themselves.”

Some rescue groups will do some limited boarding for those who have no alternative.

“The only reason we were able to do that was because so many people in this community, when they were making their hurricane preparedness plan, they thought about, ‘I can open my home to a foster animal,’” Deconna said.

Each animal fostered creates another space for an animal in need.

If you could foster an animal in these emergencies, registering with a pet rescue in advance is something that can become a part of your plan.

“That is really, really going to save lives across north central Florida should a disaster strike,” Deconna said.

To register to foster, you can apply on the Alachua County Humane Society’s website.

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